Mailata named boxer of world tournament

Rising boxing star Patrick Mailata continues to make impressive strides after being named Boxer of the Tournament at the Winners Tournament in Belgrade, Serbia, this week against top-level international opposition.

The talented South Auckland amateur super-heavyweight showcased his ability winning gold in the 91kg-plus division in Serbia and now looks set for a strong shot at success at the Commonwealth Games this year.

Mailata, who turned down contract offers with various NRL rugby league clubs to chase his boxing dream, is being tipped as one of the country's more exciting young boxing stars.

He has attracted interest from professional boxing promoters Duco Events, who view him as a future headline act but the teenager is focused on pushing for medals at the Commonwealth Games this year and then the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016 before he makes that switch to the professional ranks.

Mailata is one of four or five male boxers the New Zealand Boxing Association hopes will represent New Zealand at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. That hope comes after New Zealand boxing turned in their best overseas result in 15 years this week, which included Mailata's gold medal.

Christchurch's Bowyn Morgan claimed gold in the 69kg division, heavyweight David Light won silver and Leroy Hindley 64kg won bronze in Serbia against top-level international opposition.

The six-man New Zealand boxing team's international programme started with the Gee Bee International tournament in Finland.

They then spent time training with many of Great Britain's top prospects in Sheffield before finishing with the Winners Tournament.

The team was coached by Phil Shatford, assisted by Southland's Russell Newton.

New Zealand Boxing Association president John McKay hailed the success overseas as one of the sport's best in many years. "It's probably our best results for 15 years. It would be a long time since we won two gold medals in an international tournament, let alone three finalists, it's not bad."

McKay believed the results were the result of the investment from Sport NZ to help with their elite programme.

Previously, New Zealand Boxing have struggled to get the fighters to international tournaments because of a lack of funding and with top level opposition not able to be found in New Zealand they often went into crunch tournaments under prepared.

"Without that money we couldn't have done this. It's the first time we've had any serious money to do this sort of programme since 2006-07."

"That was a major plus for us so that we could put together some sort of serious programme where we have two international competitions with an international training camp in between."

McKay said they would nominate boxers to the New Zealand Olympic Committee in the next week and would await for them to confirm who would get the green light to head to Glasgow.

The Southland Times