Wood Beats Kariuki on Split Decision to win The Contender Australia Final

Garth Wood wins
Garth Wood wins
By Paul Upham at ringside: Garth Wood showed what a truck load of determination and making the most of an unforseen opportunity can do for a stalled boxing career. The former NRL rugby league player defeated Kenyan Kariz Kariuki on points over seven rounds on Monday night to become the first The Contender Australia champion.

“I just want to take my hat off to probably the best bloke in The Contender house, Kariz Kariuki,” said Wood after his win. “I have got a lot of time for you.”

One week before The Contender tournament began filming last August for the Foxtel FOX8 channel, Wood was not even on a list of reserves. His opportunity only arriving when another boxer withdrew at the last moment.

The two finalists had beaten twelve others to make it through to the final held at the Sydney Entertainment Centre as the main support to Anthony Mundine vs. Robert Medley.

31 year-old Wood 7-1 (3), was aggressive with a high workrate in round 1. Cut over the left eye in round 2, Wood was constantly landing clean punches to Kariuki’s chin. Wood was also warned for hitting on the break.

32 year-old Kariuki 21-8-2 (18) won round 3. Wood’s workrate disappeared and he received two more warnings for punching on the break. There was one really good right hand from Kariuki that rocked the shorter Wood.

Another vicious right hand rocked Wood in the 4th and while it was a close round, the Kenyan’s punches had more power. Wood’s workrate seemingly dropped away which let Kariuki back into the match

Round 5 was another Kariuki round. Wood had lost all of his aggressiveness and was only coming forward in very short bursts. Kariuki wasn’t at his best, but was doing enough to win.

Wood was able to smother Kariuki in round 6, who was not able to land from a distance. It was another close round, but Wood’s better workrate was eye catching.

Kariuki needed to step up and dominate round 7, but there was little punching output from him, despite his corner waving him forward. Wood did just enough to win.

The official scores of 68-66, 66-68 and 68-65 saw a split points decision victory to Wood.
“I want to thank my trainers Billy (Hussein) and Johnny Lewis,” he said. “I have the best team in the world and I can take on the world. It goes a long way when you have got a good team behind you and you are naturally confident in everything you do. You are pretty hard to stop. I hope you all follow me from now on. I promise to give my best every time I step into the ring.”

“That’s boxing,” said Kariuki. “You win some, you lose some, but I’ll be back another day.”

For his efforts, Wood received a cash prize of $25,000, a new Holden utility valued at over $50,000 and a guaranteed fight in 2010 with Anthony “The Man” Mundine with a contracted purse of $250,000.

The Man is human, so I can’t wait to see him,” Wood said of Mundine. “He knows the rules when we get into the ring.”

The Contender grudge match between Junior Talipeau and Nader Hamdan ended in a 1st round technical draw after Hamdan sustained a deep cut over his right eye from an accidental head clash.

“Yes, there will be a rematch for sure,” Hamdan told SecondsOut.

Paul Upham
Content Editor
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