Australia’s Liam Paro Aims to Steal the Show on the Haney-Prograis Card


By Arne K. Lang

These are heady days for the sport of professional boxing in Australia. Cruiserweight Jai Opetaia is the best fighter in his weight class. Tim Tszyu is a major star in the Land Down Under and his younger brother Nikita is lapping at his heels. Then there’s undefeated super lightweight Liam Paro, 27, whose profile will grow immensely if he can get past Cleveland’s Montana Love when they meet on Dec. 9 in San Francisco at the home of the Golden State Warriors. It’s a 12-rounder that will serve as the chief supporting bout to the showdown between Devin Haney and Regis Prograis.

Forget the fact that Matchroom honcho Eddie Hearn has seen fit to dress up this fight with some frivolous title; this is a good match-up. An undefeated southpaw, Liam Paro (23-0, 14 KOs) is coming off the best win of his career. Montana Love (18-1-1, 9 KOs) would likely be undefeated too if not for a bizarre disqualification in his most recent bout. He too is a southpaw.

Paro turned heads in is his last outing when he scored a brutal, one-punch, opening-round knockout of countryman Brock Jarvis. Paro was favored, bur Jarvis, a disciple of Jeff Fenech, Australia’ most famous living boxer, was accorded the better chance of ending the bout with one punch.

Paro vs. Jarvis, staged in October of last year in South Brisbane, marked Matchroom’s first foray into Australia. Paro has had two fights fall out in the interim. The British Boxing Board of Control pulled Paro out of a March 11, 2003 match in Liverpool, England with Robbie Davies Jr. when a routine but mandatory scan showed evidence of a facial fracture. Three months later, Paro was forced to withdraw from a title fight with WBA 140-pound belt-holder Regis Prograis because both of his Achilles tendons were inflamed, compromising his mobility.

The facial fracture, insists Paro, was a false positive; the test was defective. As for the Achilles issue, that’s cleared up. “It’s in my rear-view mirror,” he says.

Paro was raised in the city of Mackay which is near the Coral Sea coast of Queensland. His ancestors migrated here from Italy to work in the sugarcane fields. Unlike so many other dads, his father Errol, a welder in the steel industry, has no boxing background and isn’t directly involved in preparing his son for a fight. Errol is with his son in Las Vegas at the moment (Errol’s first visit to Sin City) and will be there with several other family members to cheer on Liam when he resumes his career in San Francisco on Dec. 9.

When healthy, Liam Paro can usually be found training at the Top Rank Gym in Las Vegas. The boxing infrastructure of the Southern Nevada city draws prizefighters from around the world. He has sparred extensively with Jamel Herring and has boxed with the likes of Shakur Stevenson and Devin Haney. Practicing his craft with fighters of that caliber may give him an edge when he touches gloves with Montana Love.

Montana Love

Montana Love came to the fore in August of 2021 when he stepped up in class and upset Russian tough guy Ivan Baranchyk on a Jake Paul promotion in Cleveland. Baranchyk’s handlers stopped the one-sided affair after seven rounds. Five weeks later, Love signed with Matchroom.

[caption id="attachment_79296" align="alignnone" width="300"]
Montana Love
Montana Love[/caption]
What followed was a third-round blast-out of 29-1 Carlos Diaz followed by a hard-earned 12-round decision over Gabriel Gollaz Valenzuela and then a match with Australia’s Steve Spark which marked Love’s debut as a top-of-the-marquee attraction in his hometown.

The fight between Love and Spark was even on two scorecards after five rounds. In the sixth, shortly after a clash of heads left Love with a bad cut over his left eye, Love pushed Spark out of the ring and was immediately disqualified by referee David Fields. It was a controversial call; a “terrible call” in the words of Eddie Hearn. For the record, after flipping over the top strand of rope, Spark landed on his feet and was fit to continue.

A 28-year-old father of three, Love has always had the vibe of a hungry fighter, a residue of the adversity he has had to overcome. His father died when he was three years old and his mother was only 38 when she passed away from colon cancer. In 2015, as his career was just getting started, he was remanded to prison on theft- and drug-related charges and served 16 months.

It’s rather ironic that Love will be facing an Australian opponent on American soil in back-to-back fights. Needless to say, he hopes that the second installment will go better than the first.
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