Wood vs. Kariuki
By Paul Upham: After ten straight weeks of intriguing drama and ring action, the new television boxing tournament series The Contender Australia reaches its conclusion on Monday night with a live final between Garth Wood and Peter Kariuki. The match will be the main support to the Anthony Mundine-Robert Medley clash at the Sydney Entertainment Centre.
The officially licensed spin off from Mark Burnett’s American version replicated the four original boxing series with one major difference. The eventual champion not only receives a title belt, cash and prizes, but also a guaranteed fight with two division world champion Anthony “The Man” Mundine and a pay cheque of $250,000 in 2010.
Trained by Johnny Lewis, Billy Hussein and Paul Briggs, the fourteen boxers in the tournament were, Nader Hamdan, Ben McCulloch, Luke Moloney, Victor Oganov, Pradeep Singh, Adrian Taihia, Israel Kani, Sonni Michael Angelo, Kariz Kariuki, Daniel McKinnon, Les Piper, Junior Talipeau, Garth Wood and Josh Clenshaw.
31 year-old Wood 6-1 (3), the former NRL rugby league player, was a last minute replacement when another boxed pulled out of the tournament the week before filming commenced and has made the most of the priceless opportunity. After receiving a first round bye upon winning an individual beach run super challenge, Wood knocked out Israel Kani and defeated Victor Oganov on points to progress to the final.
Kenyan born Kariuki 21-7-2 (18) first came to Australia in the year 2000 to compete in the Olympic Games. He knocked out Adrian Taihia, defeated Nader Hamdan controversially on points and outpointed Josh Clenshaw to reach the final.
32 year-old Kariuki will start a slight favourite, but if the fight turns in a brawl where guts and determination weigh heavily on the result, don’t count Wood out.
Bitter Contender rivals Nader Hamdan and Junior Talipeau will take their verbal stoush into the ring in the support bout to Wood-Kariuki.
The Contender Australia Finale will screen live on Monday night January 11 from 8:30pm AEST on FOX8, with replays screened throughout the week.