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Kane Cornes dominated by fellow AFL pundit as Anthony Rocca scores big boxing KO

A number of former AFL players went toe-to-toe in Adelaide ahead of Gather Round.

Kane Cornes was among the losers as Anthony Rocca, Nathan Brown, Dane Swan and Mitch Robinson all scored wins on Wednesday night in a boxing event featuring a number of former AFL players in Adelaide. Jackson England defeated Jamel Herring via split decision in the main event for the WBO Global Super Featherweight title, while Jack Brubaker beat In Duck Seo via unanimous decision.

The professional boxing debut of Alex Leapai Jr also began with a scare, but the teenage behemoth overcame New Zealander Joe Ageli's frenetic start to win their bout. The 18-year-old son of former world heavyweight title challenger Alex Leapai lost the first round before dominating the second half of the four-round fight.

Nathan Brown, Kane Cornes, Anthony Rocca and Corey McKernan.
Nathan Brown beat Kane Cornes (L), while Anthony Rocca scored a big knockout over Corey McKernan (R). Image: Stan Sport

But the biggest interest was in the four fights between former AFL players. Rocca produced a stunning knockout of Corey McKernan, before showing some brilliant sportsmanship to hold up his opponent and prevent him from falling.

“I know I’ve done a lot of work, I’ve done a s**t tonne of work into this lead up,” Rocca said. “I hit him flush with it and I knew he went down from it. We don’t want to hurt anyone. We’re not boxers, we get in here and we try our best. The professionals that come out here, they work so bloody hard.”

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Aussie boxing legend Danny Green said: “He hurt him in the first round with a shot and Corey, he knows he’s not a boxer and was out of his depth, but I’m so proud of this bloke by showing such class and grace - he knew he hurt him. Classy act by Anthony Rocca, as you’d expect, he’s a classy dude.”

Kane Cornes dominated by fellow AFL great Nathan Brown

Brown then stopped Cornes after landing a number of big blows, much to the delight of the crowd. “It’s a good effort to get out here,” Brown said. “We haven’t done a lot of boxing, but the courage for Kane to get out here … The thing about Kane is, he’ll give it in the media but he takes it as well. There are a lot of guys in the media who don’t like to give it like he does it, they’re afraid to give it. I take my hat off to him.”

Cornes admitted he’d “never been more nervous about anything in my whole life”. He wrote on social media on Thursday morning: "Beaten by a far superior opponent - Browny is an absolute weapon, congratulations. For a full debrief tune into the Sunday Footy Show - I’m sure the boys will take it easy on me." The divisive commentator earned plenty of praise, as did his conqueror and Channel 9 colleague Brown.

Former Brisbane and Carlton star Robinson was perhaps the most impressive debut winner. Robinson dominated against former Richmond player Kayne Pettifer, who suffered his first loss in a four-fight professional career. Swan was also impressive in his victory over Dale Thomas, earning praise from Green in commentary.

Alex Leapai Jr following in famous father's boxing footsteps

Outside of the AFL fights, many had their eyes on Leapai Jr in his professional debut. The 122kg giant was a schoolboy rugby league prodigy and signed with the Sydney Roosters and then the Gold Coast Titans in the NRL. But he decided late last year to follow in his father's footsteps full-time.

"It was a great experience, great atmosphere and just great to get some rounds in," Leapai told AAP. "Ageli didn't faze me. He was just throwing some wild punches. Some stuck, but I had control. But I'll take this and learn from it. The whole week was awesome."

Alex Leapai Jr, pictured here after beating Joe Ageli in his professional boxing debut.
Alex Leapai Jr beat Joe Ageli in his professional boxing debut. (PR IMAGE)

with AAP