Dakotah Keane, Neekz Johnson and Bess Slater optimistic about future of women's boxing in region

HUGE IMPRESSION: Dakotah Keane, Bess Slater and Neekz Johnson are setting the tone for women's boxing. Picture: Christine Ansorge
HUGE IMPRESSION: Dakotah Keane, Bess Slater and Neekz Johnson are setting the tone for women's boxing. Picture: Christine Ansorge

SMALL in stature, but big-hearted in the heat of the moment.

Warrnambool’s brigade of female boxers are making waves on the national circuit.

Neekz Johnson – a professional fighter training with coach Rudy Ryan – is set to for a world title fight in the south-west in December.

While her opponent is yet to be confirmed, it’s expected to be a major coup for the region.

The Standard reported in September that Johnson was preparing for an October 21 bout – her first since relocating from the Gold Coast to Warrnambool last month.

“I guess my mind is focused on that one for now, and then when I start my prep for (the title fight) – which will be pretty much be straight away – I’ll start to acknowledge it a little more,” Johnson said.

“I do know it’s coming up, as it’s my first 10-rounder, my first actual title fight. It’s really exciting.

“It’ll be great to have it here in Warrnambool.”

Johnson said her training regime would remain the same as she prepared for the title fight.

“I’m doing an eight-rounder in my October fight, but for me it’s about keeping the training going and not having as much of a break as I usually have off,” she said.

“I’m really looking forward to it.”

Dakotah Keane, another Warrnambool athlete, tackled two states in six days last week.

She ventured to Western Australian, missing out on victory via a controversial points decision, and travelled to New South Wales regional city Goulburn for a battle against a former Australia champion later that week.

Neekz Johnson, Bess Slater and Dakotah Keane. Picture: Christine Ansorge

Neekz Johnson, Bess Slater and Dakotah Keane. Picture: Christine Ansorge

Keane was victorious after producing a “dominant” effort. 

Her coach, Bess Slater, described the triumph as “impressive”.

“We got in the car and drove nine hours for six minutes of fighting,” Slater laughed.

“She fought an older opponent – a former Australian champion. She just dominated. She showed maturity and her fitness, which showed towards the end of the round.

We got in the car and drove nine hours for six minutes of fighting.

Bess Slater

“All the hard work that this little lady has been doing over the last few months – as much as she hates me dragging her out of bed – she’s been awesome.”

Slater, who is in the midst of mentoring at training camp at the Australian Institute of Sport, said Keane was fighting older opponents in a bid to improve.

“The head coach and assistant coach at Boxing Australia were at the tournament and they were really impressed with what they saw of Dakotah,” she said.

“They were keen to get her up to the AIS for a little more development and they were working out when the Youth Commonwealth Games were and all that sort of stuff.

“She was pumped.”