AFLW and boxing star Tayla Harris has suffered a devastating loss amid her world title quest, copping a battering from Milli Agboegbulen on Wednesday night. On an otherwise ground-breaking night for women's boxing, Harris was on the receiving end of too many big right hands from Agboegbulen, who retained the Australian super-welterweight title with an eight-round beat-down.
Headlining the first televised all-female card in Australian professional boxing history, Harris was hoping to take another big step towards winning a world title. But the Melbourne Demons player was no match for the power of Agboegbulen.
Harris was left with a massive egg underneath her left eye and is unlikely to present to Demons training on Thursday. As Harris got battered and literally bruised, boxing legend Jeff Fenech called for the fight to be stopped in commentary.
The fight went on, and Agboegbulen was never in doubt of holding the super-welterweight belt that Harris previously held in 2019. inexplicably, one of the judges scored the fight a draw despite Harris never being as chance.
Harris is now 8-0-2 (4 KOs) after returning to the ring for the second time this year. She dominated Connie Chan in Melbourne earlier in 2023 following a three-year lay off from boxing.
Harris is hoping to become a boxing world champion while playing in the AFLW. "It's something that is going to be a bit of a line in the sand for Australian boxing, particularly women's boxing," she said before the fight. "It's going to inspire a lot of people and I can't wait. It's going to be a great night."
Harris said her ultimate goal would be to emulate Tim Tszyu by claiming a world title in the women's equivalent division to Australia's men's WBO interim super-welterweight holder. "Big opportunities are what I live for," Harris said.
"You don't spend this many hours in the gym, working on yourself and sacrificing everything for nothing. So I'm certainly aiming for that world title. Whenever it comes, I'll be ready. Obviously I'm juggling two sports so timing is something we'll work through."
Harris was supposed to return to pre-season training with the Demons on Thursday, however there are fears she may have suffered a facial fracture. The AFLW season kicks off on September 1.
That was an unceremonious beatdown. Milli’s speed and power looked world class. Hated seeing Tayla take that damage. She is a true warrior.
— St Kilda's Finest (@stkildasfinest) July 26, 2023
How the hell did one of the judges score that fight as even. Don’t think Tayla Harris won a single round.
— Jason P (@Jacetheace7) July 26, 2023
— Sproulie (@Sproulie72) July 26, 2023
Sorry how on earth did a judge score Tayla Harris' fight a draw??!!
— Alex Conrad (@alexhconrad) July 26, 2023
Tayla Harris is tough as nails . But the ref or her corner probably should have stopped the fight in the last round , her eye was completely closed from all those punches . #Boxing
— Chris Lumsden (@Chris2Far86) July 26, 2023
She gave it her best. Milli was amazing though.
— Walter (@i_am_pottsy) July 26, 2023
It takes heart getting in the ring and going toe to toe.. may have lost on cards but still a winner to me.. I’m sure she’ll take away a lot from this and next time will end differently.. unfortunately wasn’t her night.. see her on the flip side next time!!
— Pengarte (@Alby_Pengarte) July 26, 2023
Ella Boot continues meteoric rise in Aussie boxing
Also on Wednesday night, Ella Boot (5-0) - trained by the legendary Johnny Lewis - retained the Australian light welterweight strap with an epic points win over mixed martial arts convert Annie Thatcher. Boot opened Thatcher up with a nasty cut on her left eyelid in the fourth round, but the MMA warrior managed to go the distance.
"She was very tough, just didn't stop coming forward. Exactly what I need," Boot said. "I need them hard fights and she definitely gave it to me."
In an earlier super-featherweight bout over five rounds, Angel Rushton scored a unanimous points win over Jaala Tomat. "We're chasing a world title, we won't settle for anything less," said Rushton, the daughter of Jeff Horn's renowned former trainer Glenn Rushton.
Tywarna Campbell won a split decision over Natasha Kurene in a six-round super-featherweight stoush. And super-bantamweight Jessica Messina kicked off the night by preserving her unbeaten record with an entertaining split decision over world-class Muay Thai exponent Zoe Putorak.
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