Gore boxers perform valiantly against tough first-round opponents
Two teenagers from Gore Boxing Club were beaten in the first round of the New Zealand boxing championships in Auckland last week after both picking up tricky draws.
Southland were represented at the New Zealand championships by Rakai Matika, 14, and Aaron Lay, 13.
Matika competed in the 38kg cadet division while Lay lined up in the 57kg cadet class.
Matika drew Jayden Downs of Auckland first up and the two were locked up at 7-7 after the first two rounds.
However, Downs grabbed the upper hand in the third and final round, winning it 10-4 and taking a 17-11 points victory.
He then progressed to win the New Zealand title and was also named the best fighter in all the cadet weight divisions.
Lay also drew a difficult first-round opponent, taking on Canterbury's talented Jeshaiah Perelini.
Perelini won the contest 21-8 and also went on to win the gold medal in the division.
Southland Boxing Association official Tom O'Connor said that although both fighters lost their first-round bouts they showed positive signs.
"It was a great experience for them," O'Connor said.
"They did their best, they boxed well.
"You know, when you're up against boys like that, you can only go as well as they let you."
One of the the eye-opening displays and positives to come out of the 2012 New Zealand Boxing Championships was the emergence of an Auckland schoolboy who has been touted as having an exciting future.
Patrick Mailata, 17, lined up in the elite super-heavyweight division and won gold.
Neither of his two fights went the distance, as he stopped both his opponents in the second round.
O'Connor said he certainly had talent and was a bright prospect for the future.
"He's got talent, he's got power. When he was in his stance before engaging he reminded me so much of David Tua."
Other boxers to impress at the nationals included Ryan Scaife in the junior 66-kilogram division and Bowyn Morgan, who was too classy in the elite 69kg grade.
Kahukura Benson won yet another New Zealand title in what was his last New Zealand championships - and actually his last amateur bout ever.
Benson has had 196 amateur bouts but turns 34 in December - the cutoff for amateur boxers.
O'Connor has labelled the 2012 championships the best ever, saying the venue and the organisation by the hosts were first class.
Bishop Brian Tamaki offered the Destiny Church venue free of charge to the New Zealand Boxing Association for the event and, with the Super City Gym in Auckland, helped run the event.
"It was particularly well organised and a magnificent venue," he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News