New Faces: Paolo Aokuso
Hometown: Mount Druitt, Australia
Weight class: light heavyweight
Height: 6-foot-0½ (184 cm)
Amateur record: 29-9
Turned pro: 2022
Pro record: 4-0 (3 knockouts)
Trainer: Lincoln Hudson
Manager: Fidel Tukel
Promoter: No Limit Boxing
Best night of pro career and why: Aokuso is most pleased with a fifth-round stoppage over Michael Van Nimwegan in April 2022.
“My pro debut would be it,” Aokuso told The Ring. “The best atmosphere and having my family and friends there to support me do what I do best.”
Worst night of pro career and why: It’s still early in Aokuso’s career, but so far, he’s happy with how every fight has gone.
“I haven’t come across a bad night in my pro career and planning to continue that,” he said.
What’s Next: The recently turned 26-year-old will face veteran Renald Quinlan at a private facility in Sydney on FoxSports on Wednesday.
Quinlan (16-12, 11 KOs) has been a professional since 2008. During that time, he has come up short in three attempts to win the Australian national title. He has fought internationally losing to Chris Eubank Jr. (TKO 10) and Joshua Buatsi (TKO 1). The 33-year-old is usually fairly sturdy has only been stopped four times in those 12 defeats.
Aokuso should be far too good for Quinlan at this stage of his career. However, it will be interesting to see how Aokuso wins and how he looks.
Why he’s a prospect: Aokuso has managed to fit a lot into less than 40 amateur fights. He won the several tournaments in Australia, including Golden Gloves, South East Queensland, State and national titles.
He represented Australia at the 2020 Olympics, losing in the Round of 16 to Gazi Jalidov 3:2.
“The Olympics is the best experience I’ve had in boxing ever,” he said proudly. “I know I didn’t get the whole experience of the Olympics because it was during Covid, but just being there and representing my country was amazing.”
The powerful southpaw has sparred with the best his country has to offer including touted heavyweight prospect Justis Huni, Ring/IBF cruiserweight champion Jai Opetaia, unbeaten super middleweight Mateo Tapia and highly regarded junior middleweight Tim Tszyu.
“I learned to be smarter and becoming much more patient with my shot selection,” he said of his experience against the aforementioned quartet. “I also learned very quickly to understand the speed difference from the amateurs. Having much more time in the professional ranks, meant I had to treat it like a game of chess, not rush it like in the amateurs and try force it. That’s what makes the fighters I sparred such great professionals.”
Aokuso feels three things mark him out from his rivals: “My best attributes are my speed, my footwork and my defense.”
While his most recent opponent, Yunieski Gonzalez, was 37 when they fought, it was still a valuable learning curve for the rising fighter and showed his potential.
His manager, Fidel Tukel, is enthused by the prospect of what his fighter could do even at this stage of his career.
“Myself and [trainer] Lincoln Hudson first watched Paulo in 2020 in the amateurs and knew immediately we had the perfect member to join our squad,” said Tukel.
“In all the years we’ve worked with many world champions and world-rated fighters, Vic Darchinyan, Will Tomlinson, Lenny Zappavigna etc. Paulo possesses a package like no other we have seen before. Speed, power, footwork. [It] seems like there is nothing he can’t do. A great boxing aptitude.
“Paulo makes boxing fun, not just to the purist boxing fan but also everyday observers. The sport needs more fighters like Paulo with flair and ability to match. It would help grow the sport immensely.
“His potential is limitless; this is boxing so we never look too far ahead but this kid could do anything. He could easily become Australia’s best since Jeff Fenech and really light up the world scene like no other Australian before him. Time will tell. We know one thing; he’s making it a very fun ride.”
Why he’s a suspect: His team seem in a rush but clearly believe in their fighter. However, it is important they don’t push too early and overstep. Fights like Gonzalez and the upcoming one with Quinlan should help him gain rounds, experience and allow him to develop as a fighter.
We still need to see how he handles other talented fighters, who come to win and how he is able to handle adversity. But those things are further down the road.
From a technical stand point, the southpaw carries his hands low, notably his lead right hand. He will have to be careful of that as he steps through the levels.
Aokuso knows he’s not the finished article and needs to keep working hard in the gym: “To reach the next level I got to stay consistent, work hard and stay dedicated.”
Storylines: Aokuso, who was born in Mt. Druitt, New South Wales, Australia, took his time to find boxing and didn’t begin until he was 18, though had influences around him.
“I started punching pads as a kid with my dad,” he said. “My father was a former Samoan amateur representative so I grew up around boxing. I never really got into it until 2014/ 15, when I lost my love for Rugby League. I had my first fight in May 2015 and kept at it since then.”
When asked who his hero is and what his goals are, he has an interesting perspective.
“I don’t have a hero myself; my goal is to become one for everyone else,” he said confidently. “To set records and leave a legacy.”
Away from boxing, Aokuso is an active person and lists spending time with his friends and family, playing pool, basketball, bowling and going to the movies as things he enjoys doing.
March 12 – Yunieski Gonzalez – UD 10
Nov. 23 – David Zegarra – TKO 2
June 29 – Robert Berridge – TKO 2
April 6 – Michael Van Nimwegan – TKO 5
THE BUNDLES ARE BACK AT THE RING SHOP (CLICK HERE)