Junior Fa’s management team claim their heavyweight boxer was hit by two illegal blows to the back of the head in his shock defeat to Lucas Browne and have instructed their solicitors to lodge an appeal.
South Aucklander Fa was stopped in the first round of his fight against 43-year-old Australian Browne in a huge upset on the undercard of the George Kambosos v Devin Haney main event at Melbourne’s Marvel Arena on Sunday.
It was only Fa’s second defeat in 21 professional fights after he lost on points to Joseph Parker in February last year and if it stands it will be potentially career damaging.
“We’ve put the lawyer on notice and we’re putting in an appeal tomorrow,” Fa’s manager Mark Keddell said in an interview with 1News on Sunday night, adding that his man was “distraught” by the result but physically okay after appearing to have convulsions in the ring.
“He got hit on the back of the head,” Keddell added. “We didn’t see it – we thought he got hit on top of the head – there are no replays at the stadium. We couldn’t see anything. We were literally facing Lucas’s back. We’re absolutely gutted that it happened. Junior is just distraught. We’ve had other promoters call us already saying it was an illegal shot.”
The broadcast appeared to show Fa, 32, being hit in the left temple by a short right hand from Browne, who has been knocked out twice in his last five fights, including by former league player Paul Gallen.
It happened mid-way through the first round and Fa was staggered by the blow, one of his legs jerking alarmingly, before he fell to the canvas and continued twitching.
However, he beat the count before quickly being felled again by Browne with what appeared a more obvious unintentional blow to the back of his head. It was then that referee Jeffrey Eddy stopped it.
Keddell was adamant both shots were unintentionally illegal and that the first affected Fa’s nervous system, hence the convulsions. He added that Fa had his own doctor in his corner and that he didn’t need hospital attention afterwards. Fa would be monitored over the next 24 hours.
Asked why the corner, including experienced City Kickboxing trainer Eugene Bareman, didn’t stop the fight after the first knockdown, Keddell replied: “We literally couldn’t see anything. We were right behind Lucas. After watching the video, yeah we were horrified and absolutely would have called it if we had seen the convulsions. It happened very quickly and we didn’t see the shot. We have a very experienced corner.
“Junior has been knocked down before and has recovered really nicely. It’s the nature of heavyweight boxing. We weren’t aware of the damage. The referee should have stopped it – we didn’t know how hurt he was.”
Fa, who competed admirably against Parker last year, with some saying he should have been awarded the decision, appeared heavier for this fight.
But Keddell denied he took Browne lightly. “He got Covid 12 weeks ago and was quite sick. That was the first three weeks of the camp and that’s why he was three or four kilos over what he should have been. But he was looking great – Junior was going off in sparring, he was looking amazing.
“We prepared hard for Lucas. We didn’t count the Paul Gallen fight at all. We know Lucas can be up and down at all. We know he can punch hard. We didn’t take him lightly, not all. We had a great campaign, the guys who were sparring Junior will tell you what shape he was in.”
Keddell said Fa was due to return to Auckland on Monday night.