Rugby star and part-time boxer Quade Cooper says Brisbane fighter Alex Leapai’s world heavyweight bout against Wladimir Klitschko is inspiring.
Quade Cooper has seen his fair share of battlers forced to earn their chance at sporting glory after years of unrelenting struggle.
That’s why he’s so excited for Logan boxer Alex Leapai.
Cooper – the Queensland Reds and Wallabies star and part-time boxer – will be firmly in Leapai’s corner when the 34-year-old travels to Germany later this year for a world heavyweight championship bout against Wladimir Klitschko.
While Cooper was making headlines last February in his professional boxing debut, Leapai was quietly building to his reputation on the night’s undercard.
In November the big-hitting Samoan father-of-six set up a date with Ukrainian superstar Klitschko when he defeated WBO No.1 contender Denis Boytsov in Germany.
Cooper compared Leapai’s rise to players who make the most of any chance presented to them at the Reds.
“To see a guy from Logan, from Brisbane, whose worked tremendously hard to get to a position where he is, it’s not too dissimilar to a lot of guys playing footy,” Cooper said.
“A lot of guys give up a lot of time, they work hard out on the footy field, they play for a local club, get picked up by the Reds and go on to play for their country.
“For him, he’s battled away, lots of fights, some very tough fights and now he’s about to fight one of the best in the world.”
The terms of Leapai’s fight will be signed off early next week but it’s expected he’ll earn a purse of $1.5 million.
It will be the first time an Australian has fought for the heavyweight title since Bill Squires lost to Tommy Burns in 1908 and an upset against Klitschko – undefeated in a decade and one of the best fighters in the heavyweight division since 2004 – would propel him into the sporting stratosphere.
But as far as Cooper’s concerned it’s just reward for a man whose path to glory has included a stint in jail, driving delivery trucks and numerous bouts at RSLs, pubs, clubs and taverns.
“Last year he was helping out on the undercard for myself and Sonny (Bill Williams) and now he’s fighting against one of the best heavyweights of all time,” Cooper said.
“That’s going to be an interesting battle.”