MICK Fanning
MICK Fanning

Fanning versus idol

IF the thought of who would win a showdown between current world No.1 Mick Fanning and 1999 World Champion Mark “Occy” Occhilupo has ever crossed your mind, the good news is you might finally get an answer.

In a coup for Australian surfing, Fanning will headline February’s Breaka Burleigh Surf Pro, where he will pit his skills against one of the men he idolised growing up.

Occhilupo’s entry into the event marks a cool comeback for the legendary goofy-footer who officially retired from the sport in 2007.

However, surfing diehards shouldn’t get their hopes up about him officially retiring from retirement, because it is understood he is returning to the professional arena exclusively for the Burleigh event.

The Burleigh Pro will be the first standalone professional surfing event to be staged at the iconic point break in almost 10 years and, because the competition is being held in Queensland’s prime swell period, the possibility of scoring an infamous Burleigh barrel was hard to refuse for the world’s best surfers.

Occhilupo and Fanning will be joined by a host of current and former World Championship Tour competitors, including current Pipeline Master Taj Burrow, former Hawaiian Triple Crown winner Bede Durbidge, Dean Morrison, Jay Thompson, Nathan Hedge and Darren O’Rafferty.

Association of Surfing Professionals Australasia tour manager Dane Jordan believes the event is a dream come true.

“With current and two-time world champion Mick Fanning heading up 18 of the ASP World Tour top 45, the Breaka Burleigh Surf Pro has assembled potentially the strongest field ever seen for a four-star World Qualifying Series event,” Jordan said yesterday.

“Add in former world champion Mark Occhilupo, top World Qualifying Series contenders like Shaun Gossman, world-class juniors like Davey Cathels, free-surfing stars like Julian Wilson and Mitch Coleborn, and a host of hard-core locals and big-wave chargers and the scene is set for a gladiatorial-like battle at Burleigh.”

The showdown between the two Australian world champions also has an interesting twist, with the pair claiming world titles exactly 10 years apart – Fanning in 2007 and 2009 and Occhilupo in 1999.

Surfers wishing to compete can enter at www.aspaustralasia.com.

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