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Knockout punch

Saturday, April 12, 2014

SYDNEY - Already oozing confidence, Alex Leapai says fighting in the shadows of Anzac Day will inspire him to land the knockout punch in his quest to become Australia's first heavyweight boxing world champion in more than a century.

The first Australian in 106 years to challenge for a unified world heavyweight title, Leapai is vowing to "go to war" with reigning champion Wladimir Klitschko in Germany on April 26.

"Look, it's Anzac Day the day before and I will be thinking about those guys, the people who died for our country, and going over there I'll be doing the same," Leapai said yesterday.

"I'm going to show them that, hey, I'm an Anzac too and I'm a warrior too and I've got the same blood as all these guys who went and fought for this country and I'm going to bring it home.

"I'm going to put everything on the line just to make Australia proud."

Leapai was talking tough despite having to cut short an intense sparring session with 201cm tall Romanian Razvan Cojanu — himself earmarked as a future world heavyweight champion — after straining his neck.

Refusing to sport any head gear, Leapai said he only stopped after four of six scheduled rounds as a precaution.

"I'm from the islands, you know, so I've never sparred with head gear," he said.

"It doesn't matter how big they are, you can't hurt this (my head).

"Klitschko's going to be hitting harder too and I'll be ready for whatever he's got.

"I'm 100 per cent confident that I'm going to go to war with this guy and he's not going to like what I'm going to give him."

Cojanu's legendary trainer, John "Pops" Arthur, had no doubts Leapai could spring a huge boilover against Klitschko after watching the Samoan-born powerhouse go full tilt in a no-holds barred session with his highly-rated charge.

A giant in the same mould as 198cm Klitschko, Cojanu was flown to Australia by Leapai's camp especially to assist in preparation for the historic world title bout in Oberhausen.

Leapai has proven to Arthur he can nullify Klitschko's reach advantage with his "heart" and "brick jaw".

"If he can bring that same spirit that he brought into the ring today, it's going to be an upset," Arthur said.

"The night of the fight, if he does that, it's hands down. All he has to do is keep coming.

"Most opponents that Klitschko faces off, they worry about catching that big right hand.

"This guy doesn't worry about catching that right hand. He'll catch it and eat it and keep coming.

"It's going to be a hell of a fight."

Fighting in Germany, Leapai knows it's important to take the judges out of the equation.

"We're going to be pushing for the knockout," he said.

"To be honest, with this fight, we won't need the judges. I'll make my own decision."

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