Skye
Australian boxer Skye Nicolson wants to win her world title on home soil, ideally in Brisbane. Image by Darren England/AAP PHOTOS
  • boxing

Skye’s high hopes for Aussie homecoming title fight

Murray Wenzel January 11, 2024

Skye Nicolson wants to stop the nation like the Matildas did by winning a boxing world title on home soil.

The Queenslander is back in Brisbane on the campaign trail ahead of her WBC world featherweight fight against Sarah Mahfoud.

“Women’s boxing hasn’t had a huge fight here – I want to bring a big world-title fight back to Australia,” she said on Thursday.

The Matildas run to the semi-finals of last year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup captivated the joint-host nation, with their shoot-out defeat of France in Brisbane a stand-out sporting moment of 2023.

“I was watching it from the UK thinking, ‘Oh my god, I want to do that for women’s boxing’,” Nicolson, who is based in London, said. 

“It was so powerful to see and something women’s sport’s needed for so long; boxing in Australia, we need that too. 

“You could see what it did; the country stopped for those girls.”

Australian boxer Skye Nicolson.
 UK-based Skye Nicolson has returned to Brisbane to campaign for a fight on home soil. Image by Darren England/AAP PHOTOS 

“It was so powerful to see and something women’s sport has needed for so long; boxing in Australia, we need that too.

Fellow Queenslander and super-lightweight world-title hopeful Liam Paro is in the Matchroom stable alongside Nicolson.  

Sydney product Ebanie Bridges, also based in the UK, lost her IBF bantamweight title last year, while emerging Brisbane heavyweight Justis Huni is also with Matchroom and could help build a monster local card.

But things will need to move quickly, given Mahfoud’s (14-1) native Denmark has already expressed interest in staging the fight.

Upset in a controversial split-decision Tokyo Olympics quarter-final loss in 2021, Nicolson notched wins in New York, Dublin, Mexico and Cardiff last year to move to 9-0 in less than two years as a professional.

Australian boxer Liam Paro.
 Queenslander Liam Paro could also fight for a world title on the Brisbane card. Image by Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS 

Her efforts took her to the brink of a shot at undisputed champion status in just 10 professional fights.

But seven-division champion Amanda Serrano’s shock decision to vacate the WBC belt when the organisation refused to sanction three-minute rounds – or 12-round bouts – for females on safety grounds, has stripped the 28-year-old of that chance.

Instead, Serrano is set to face Nina Meinke – who Mahfoud has beaten – and wait on a possible blockbuster rematch with Irish superstar Katie Taylor.

“I really wanted Amanda Serrano; it was a dream come true,” Nicolson said. 

“My first world title for undisputed, against a pound-for-pound great, in my 10th fight – basically unheard of.

“But I did see it coming. There’s a lot more on the line for her than a girl coming though in the first two years as a pro.

“And I’m fighting the next best in line. 

“I’ll still be in a big, real fight and there’s nowhere else for Serrano to go after that if she wants to be the queen of the featherweight.”

Skye Nicolson disconsolate at losing at the Tokyo Olympics.
 Skye Nicolson’s tough split-decision loss at Tokyo’s Olympics denied her a rare medal. Image by AP PHOTO 

Nicolson’s Tokyo loss is still raw but she said the decision to go “all in” on a professional career helped her move on.

“It flicked a mental switch,” she said.

“It’s a new world. It is the entertainment business now, not tippy-tappy boxing. 

“You’re going out there to win and entertain. To get bums on seats people want to see power, knockouts.”