FORMER rugby league bad boy John Hopoate has won the Australian heavyweight boxing championship, the Sydney fighter stopping defending champion Bob Mirovic deep into the ninth round of an epic bout at the Gold Coast convention centre. Hopoate cornered Mirovic and hit him with more than six clean punches to knock the 42-year-old to the floor. Mirovic got to his feet but his trainer Jeff Fenech threw in the towel to end the fight. The win showed that Hopoate was more than a three-round knockout king, and illustrated stamina many thought he did not have. Experts had said that Hopoate had to knock Mirovic out within four rounds if he were to win the title, and that's the plan the former Australia league international took into the bout. Hopoate charged straight at Mirovic from the opening bell and delivered five right hooks in a row, and Mirovic spent much of the first round trying to slow the battle and lock arms with Hopoate. The second round was a more even affair, as Hopoate appeared tired after his opening onslaught and Mirovic got the opportunity to land a few punches before Hopoate finished with a late flurry. Hopoate was deducted one point in the third round for an attempted head butt. Hopoate looked to have run out of legs from the fourth round to the seventh, his punches lacking power while Mirovic picked his moments. Mirovic even opened Hopoate's nose in the sixth round as the heavy hitter began to tire, but Hopoate found his second wind in the eighth round and landed a host of clean blows to Mirovic's face. The attack left the veteran wobbly and he eventually hit the floor late in the eighth but managed to get to his feet. But Hopoate took control in the ninth round and ended the fight.