Conor Wallace lost his Australian title in Queensland this morning [Irish time] but gained respect and notoriety after 10 sensational back and forth rounds with Leti Leti.
The light heavyweights produced for the cameras and opened the Fox Sports broadcast fight night with a Fight of the Year contender.
The pair’s contrasting styles gelled perfectly in terms of fan entertainment and a hard to score, highly octane, entertaining, tit for tat clash ensued.
Unfortunately for Newry’s Wallace he ended up on the wrong end of a majority decision and thus lost the title he beat Mitchell Whitelaw to claim in late 2019. The judges scored the fight 98-93, 96-94, 95-95 in the Samoa-born fighter’s favour.
However, despite losing his, belt Wallace didn’t leave the ring empty-handed. The 25-year-old earned massive respect from the watching crowd, will have certainly banked a valuable amount of experience and will have secured enough exposure for TV Down Under to want him back.
Wallace started the fighter the brighter, using his range and southpaw jab to good effect but the more experienced and brilliantly named Leti Leti was having pockets of success in the early rounds. The 33-year-old, who came into the fight with just one career defeat and 12 knockouts from 15 wins, was laying down the foundations for a strong finish and obviously doing enough to pip some close rounds in the first half of the fight.
By the seventh, Wallace did look like he was beginning to wane but he wasn’t going out without a fight. In fact, despite looking a bit more tired in the final few stanzas the six-time Irish underage National Champion still managed to make each of the last four competitive.
The ninth was particularly standout and a three minute summation of the half hour fight. The challenger finding his way into range and giving Wallace the chance to prove how good a chin he has. Then after absorbing some heavy shots the then champion composed himself found his distance and hurt his opponent with a textbook southpaw one-two.
The tenth proved similar with Leti piling on the pressure, going for the stoppage, Wallace taking the punishment before having success in the final minute. However, in this case, he left it too late to respond and it proved a stanza that may have cost him a draw and his title as a result.
There will be disappointment in camp Wallace but such was the display the prospect’s career won’t be overly damaged. Indeed a rebuild may be avoided if a rematch can be secured. It was a massive step-up for the Ulster fighter when you take into account Leti’s experience – and losing a tight entertaining fight rather than being schooled suggests it was a step-up he was ready to handle.
The win sees Leti improve to 16-1 while Wallace slips to 7-1 after the first defeat of his career.