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Aussie boxing's biggest weekend of year

AAP logoAAP 8/12/2016 Adrian Warren

World-ranked Australians Jeff Horn and Lenny Zappavigna will have some of the biggest names in boxing monitoring their progress up close this weekend.

On Saturday, WBO and IBF rated No.2 welterweight Horn defends his WBO Inter-Continental welterweight title against eighth-ranked Ali Funeka of South Africa in Auckland.

Less than 24 hours later in Los Angeles Lenny Zappavigna fights Kazakhstan's Sergey Lipinets in a battle between the third and fourth ranked IBF junior welterweights respectively in an eliminator for the vacant No.1 ranking.

Australian boxing's biggest weekend of the year starts on Friday night on a less serious note with NSW State of Origin rugby league captain Paul Gallen fighting fellow NRL player Junior Paulo and former NRL stars Todd Carney and Chris Sandow also clashing.

But it's Horn and Zappavigna who stand to gain on the global front.

Among those at ringside in Auckland will be legendary promoter and power broker Bob Arum.

He has entered into a co-promotional deal with Duco Events, the New Zealand-based company, which manages Horn.

Arum made it clear this week an impressive win over Funeka would keep Horn on course for a bout with the veteran promoter's biggest star, WBO welterweight world champion Manny Pacquiao.

In Los Angeles, Zappavigna will have in his corner the world's best-known trainer, Freddie Roach, who also trains Pacquiao.

Zappavigna, and 10-0 Lipinets are vying for the right to become the mandatory contender to IBF champion Eduard Troyanovsky.

It will be the third time Roach has been head trainer in Zappavigna's corner.

Gallen and the other rugby league stars fighting at Sydney's Hordern Pavilion on Friday will have more modest aims.

Gallen (5-0) is scheduled to fight again in two weeks and down the track he wants to meet code hopper Sonny Bill Williams

Paulo will be having his first fight, as will Carney and Sandow, while the undercard also features Kye Mackenzie and Dylan Emery squaring off for the vacant Australian super lightweight title.

.A BIG WEEKEND FOR AUSTRALIAN BOXING

*FRIDAY: Paul Gallen v Junior Paulo, Todd Carney v Chris Sandow, Sydney

*SATURDAY: Jeff Horn v Ali Funeka, Auckland

*SUNDAY (AEDT): Lenny Zappavigna v Sergey Lipinets, Los Angeles

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