Some of New Zealand’s best amateur boxers have been fighting it out in the ring at the New Zealand Boxing Championship in Rotorua this week.
Today is the fourth and final day of the championships, at the Energy Events Centre, during which the elite open finals are being held.
Flying the flag for Rotorua are Tyson Sykes, of Sykes Boxing Gym, in the elite 81kg division and Matua Parkinson, of Rotovegas Boxing Gym, in the youth 81kg division.
Parkinson is yet to step into the ring at the championships as, with just two boxers in the division, today’s bout is a straight final. He goes up against Sonatane Tautalanoa of Auckland.
Sykes, who is defending the title he won last year, has had to get through two preliminary bouts and a semifinal.
On Tuesday, day one of the championships, he beat Auckland’s Jerome Pampellone 5-0 to book his spot in the second round. Fellow Sykes Boxing Gym member Tyson Corbett went down 4-1 against Wellington/Hutt Valley’s Zachary Jensen in the junior 63kg division.
In the elite male middleweight division Rotorua Central Boxing Club’s Emile Richardson was unlucky to draw the top-ranked boxer in the division, Ryan Scaife of Wellington/Hutt Valley.
Richardson impressed organisers with his tenacity as he took the fight to Scaife, but in the end his championship was over as he went down 5-0.
Sykes was back in the ring on day two and put in a dominant display of boxing to pick up a win over Kirikiriroa’s Caleb Magee via a “referee stops contest”.
Yesterday, in the semifinal he dispatched South Auckland boxer Dylan Wright, who was fighting for the Central North Island Boxing Association, 5-0 in a hard-fought contest.
Both boxers came out swinging, Sykes’ damaging upper-cuts and lightning-quick jabs being the highlights as he kept his composure under pressure for the win.
He will face Canterbury’s Sunny Teki-Clark in today’s final.
Rotorua Central Boxing Club owner Rex Jenkins, president of the Central North Island Boxing Association organising the event, said the championships were running smoothly.
While the quality of boxing had been impressive, it was not as high as it could have been due to some of the top boxers being unavailable.
However, this has given younger, less experienced boxers the opportunity to step into the spotlight and it appears the future of New Zealand boxing is strong.
“It’s been pretty good, there’s a lot of new blood coming through because the big boys aren’t here. There is a lot of promise, New Zealand has got a lot of talent in actual boxing, but in a lot of cases it’s not brought out,” Jenkins said.
He said Sykes had started the championships slowly but was building nicely for the final.
“He struggled a little bit in his first one and the second was a little bit slow-starting, but once he got in his rhythm it was all over. His first opponent was previously undefeated in seven or eight fights.”
Jenkins said the elite finals would be great for spectators and encouraged Rotorua residents to check it out.
The cadet junior finals were held last night. Locals involved were Maea Hay, Kevin Hay, Kahu Rangiawha, Naturelle Rangiawha (Rotorua Central Boxing Club) and Maniteariki Richel (Rotovegas Boxing Gym).
–David Beck, NZHerald