Another glorious day has greeted us here at the Star City Casino in Sydney, but it probably hasn’t been well received by the locals as many are nursing sore heads after last night’s celebrations at the Acer Arena near the Sydney Olympic Park in Homebush, including the hundreds that packed every square inch of the Sports Theatre to watch Australian boxers Anthony “The Man” Mundine and Garth “The Contender” Wood duke it out.
What was particularly special about this fight was the lead-up story: both men are from Sydney, both are ex-professional rugby league players and both have made the transition into successful boxing careers. Mundine has even dabbled in rap music, but he’s built himself a reputation of being the boxer that everyone loves to hate due to some rather controversial statements to the media in the past, as well as fighting in main events against opponents of dubious quality.
Many thought that Wood was another one of those lacklustre opponents, but there was no doubting his dedication and motivation to get to this moment, having won the Australian version of the reality TV show The Contender to receive this dream main event drawcard opportunity against Mundine. Wood, in only his 12th professional fight, didn’t waste it – he floored Mundine with a left hook 58 seconds into the fifth round and won by knockout. The result sent shockwaves through the sporting community and already it’s been declared the biggest upset in Australian boxing history.
We love a good against-all-odds story in poker and there’s probably none bigger in this region than those of the brothers Hachem, Joe and Tony. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, Joe won the World Series of Poker in 2005 and almost single-handedly ignited the “Great Australian Poker Boom”, bringing the game of No Limit Texas Hold’em into the mainstream. Joe has since followed it up with a WPT title in 2006 and the PokerStars EPT London 8-game Championship in 2009, as well as being the first player to be elevated to “Legend” status in the Australian Poker Hall of Fame.
As for Tony, many of his critics thought that he would never come out from his brother’s shadow, but he made them eat their words after winning back-to-back PokerStars.net ANZPT Player of the Year titles in 2009 and 2010. Tony also holds the most in-the-money finishes in ANZPT history, cashing nine times from 13 events, including his breakthrough victory in this year’s inaugural ANZPT Perth Event at the Burswood Casino. Tony has also just come out of hospital after ankle surgery and though he may still be a little tender, there’ll be no doubting his determination to do well in this APPT Grand Final Main Event.
The Hachem brothers headline today’s Day 1c flight, alongside fellow TeamPokerStars Pro and 2003 WSOP Main Event champion Chris Moneymaker, WCOOP Player of the Series James Obst, reigning Aussie Millions champion Tyron Krost and 2009 WSOP Player of the Year Jeff Lisandro.
Be sure to stay tuned here on the PokerStars Blog as Landon Blackhall and Heath “TassieDevil” Chick bring you live updates from the Star City Poker Room today from 12.30pm AEDST (GMT +11). It’s going to be on like Donkey Kong!