WAIT OVER: Rocky Jerkic at Steel City Boxing in Hamilton North. Picture: Michael Parris n champion Rocky Jerkic will end a long and frustrating wait when he fights for the vacant Commonwealth super-welterweight title in Melbourne on Friday night.
The Newcastle-trained boxer from Brisbane will have the chance to “open doors” to bigger fights if he overcomes unbeaten Victorian Anthony Buttigieg at The Melbourne Pavilion.
The 28-year-old mandatory challenger won a purse bid last year to host a Commonwealth title bout againstLiam Williams, but the Welshman relinquished his belt instead of travelling to .
Jerkic has a 15-0 record, including 12 knockouts, and scored a celebrated comeback win over Shannon King to win the national title in late 2015.
He has struggled to find willing opponents in since then, but trainer Rob Fogarty said a win on Friday would help establish him in the international arena.
“I don’t think Williams wanted to take the risk on an undefeated kid,” the Steel City Boxing trainer said on Tuesday before flying to Melbourne with his charge.
“No one else in wants to fight him.
“We’ve put the challenge out to Mundine, everyone, and they’ve all knocked it back.
“At least Buttigieg, you’ve got to give him props for stepping up.
“I know for a fact he’s primed, ready to go.
“This is the first guy in well over 12 months who has even put his hand up to fight Rocky.”
Fogarty said he had watched Jarrett Hurd score a ninth-round technical knockout of fellow American Tony Harrison to win the IBF super-welterweight world title last weekend at the Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama, and said Jerkic was “definitely on a par” with both fighters.
He said Jerkic would challenge Oriental and Pacific Boxing Federation champion Yutaka Oishi if he beat Buttigieg.
“Without a doubt this is the biggest fight of Rocky’s career. This will open some doors for him,” he said.
“Within 30 days we’ll know if we fight the guy in Japan or we can bring it back here.
“After that, that should put him in the top 15 in the world in the WBC.”
Buttigieg, at 171cm, is giving away 12cm in height to Jerkicbut has won all 12 of his fights, three by knockout.
He has won four of those fights by split decision, but Fogarty said Buttigieg had taken two months off work to prepare for the 12-round fight.
“He’s short, nuggety, got a walk-up style. Good defensively,” Fogarty said. “I’ve watched plenty of tape on this kid. He is strong.”