Meehan signals lucrative future for young talent

Former world heavyweight boxing title contender Kali Meehan marvels at the opportunities young boxers have in front of them in New Zealand.

The 43-year-old, who hails from Auckland, but is now based in Australia, has achieved more than most in regard to New Zealand boxers.

However, he is hardly recognised in the streets and says he certainly is not all that well off from his boxing, despite going head-to-head with the likes of former world heavyweight champion Hasim Rahman.

He has a 42-fight 38-win record, fought in three world title eliminator bouts during his career and in 2004 took on Lamon Brewster for the world WBO heavyweight title.

His professional career started as a 26-year-old in New Zealand. He had four fights in Auckland before heading to Australia in 1998 to make his mark on their boxing scene and from there went on to fight all around the world.

But apart from those close to boxing in New Zealand the name Meehan still doesn't leap out.

He now looks at what is happening with professional boxing in New Zealand and believes young boxers can and will make a name for themselves.

Promoters see a market for boxing in New Zealand with Duco Events recently putting together pay-per-view cards and have turned 22-year-old Joseph Parker into a star with only seven professional bouts to his name.

Sky TV are also stepping into the boxing promotions game in New Zealand and in June will stage a Sky Arena Super 8 heavyweight tournament which Meehan will contest.

"There was no media coverage when I was starting out. The involvement Sky Arena is going to have in boxing is huge," he said.

"If a young kid wants to be a boxer and has the skills and potential he will be laughing at what he could do, they'll build his profile. It's really exciting.

"Joseph Parker has had seven fights and everybody in the country knows him, that's how it should be. He's obviously with Kevin Barry who knows the game and how they need to get him on TV and all that.

"Even when I fought for the world title - I fought Lamon Brewster who had just knocked out (Wladimir) Klitschko to win the title ... and 10 weeks later I fought Hasim Rahman - and I come back here [to New Zealand] and people didn't know who I was."

Meehan's 18-year-old son Willis is a rising heavyweight star in Australia and Meehan Sr said it was all about building his profile and getting him around the right people to ensure he didn't make some of the same mistakes as his dad.

Willis is Australia's leading amateur super heavyweight boxer and will head to the Commonwealth Games in Scotland in July.

He is also regarded as a future rugby league star and is signed to the Roosters and tipped to play first grade this year despite still being a teenager.

Meehan Sr says the plan is to build his son's profile in rugby league before, in a couple of years, chasing his world heavyweight dreams.

"We're aiming big," Meehan said.

"Commonwealth [Games] this year, play top grade [NRL] this year, try and make State of Origan next year and then keep playing football before the 2016 Olympics and after that turn pro."

The Southland Times