Realistic shot at Glasgow boxing medals lined up

MATT RICHENS
Last updated 05:00 30/05/2014
Bowyn Morgan
IAIN MCGREGOR/Fairfax NZ
BIG HITTER: West Coast boxer Bowyn Morgan is New Zealand's top chance at a boxing medal at the Commonwealth Games.

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A more stringent selection criteria has ensured much improved New Zealand boxers and an increased chance of adding to the country's 30 Commonwealth Games medals in the ring.

Shane Cameron and Daniel Codling won New Zealand's last Games boxing medals, in 2002, but the sport's high performance director John McKay believes the current team can break the 12-year drought.

The main hopes are Christchurch's four-time national champion Bowyn Morgan and Auckland Olympian Alexis Pritchard.

The New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) yesterday announced a seven-strong team for the Glasgow Games, including Pritchard and Magan Maka after women's boxing was included in the Games stable.

McKay was confident this team had the ability and international experience to push for medals. He suggested it was the strongest New Zealand team in 15 years.

A big chunk of his confidence came courtesy of increased funding and how it was used.

"One of the reasons they've performed so well - especially in the last 12 months - is because they've been subject to boxing outside of New Zealand and outside of Oceania."

NZOC told Boxing New Zealand doing well in Oceania was not a good enough indication that boxers fit their selection criteria of having the ability to finish in the top six at the Games.

So, with more High Performance Sport New Zealand funding, they've been able to travel more and find tougher competition. And it's worked.

Two members of the team, teenage Auckland super heavyweight Patrick Mailata and Morgan, recently won gold medals at a high-profile international event in Serbia. The remainder of the team have fought a higher calibre opponent than past teams.

McKay was only too well aware the sport's funding could be affected by the team's Games performances, but he was confident enough had been done to ensure the New Zealand team would perform well.

Possibly two more boxers could be added to the team after this weekend's Golden Gloves event in Taupo.

In the men's classes, Morgan will be joined by Chad Milnes, Leroy Hindley, David Light and Mailata.

Milnes, 22, will fight in the men's lightweight class, Hindley, 21, in light welterweight, Light, 22, heavyweight, Mailata, 19, super heavyweight and Morgan, 25, welterweight.

Pritchard is the second-ranked 60kg woman in the Commonwealth while 20-year-old Maka will fight in the women's 75kg middleweight class.

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