New Zealanders eye two Games boxing medals
New Zealand will win two Commonwealth Games boxing medals, but were controversially denied a third.
Aucklander David Light and Hamilton's David Nyika have qualified for the semifinals of the Glasgow Games to guarantee themselves a medal and New Zealand its first boxing silverware since 2002.
But the major talking point among the New Zealand team today was how West Coast welterweight Bowyn Morgan was robbed in his quarterfinal.
Morgan took on England's Scott Fitzgerald in the bout of the night and though no-one doubted it was close, nearly everyone though the Kiwi won.
Not two of the three judges, though. Morgan was markedly better than Fitzgerald in the opening round, but the Moroccan judge Hassan Zoubid and his Argentinian mate Gerardo Poggi favoured Fitzgerald.
The second round was closer with Zoubid and Poggi again favouring Fitzgerald while Korean judge Seogwon Kim gave the opening two rounds to Morgan.
Morgan was crestfallen to have lost, but gracious in defeat.
"I'm gutted, mate. I knew it was close and I thought I did enough, but obviously not."
The 25-year-old moved away from Greymouth and his 4-year-old daughter Pheonix so he could spend more time training with national amatuer coach Phil Shatford in Christchurch.
"It stings eh, I kind of feel like I've let Pheonix down," he said.
"But I gave it my all; I know I can't have done or given anymore and I know I left it all out there."
His team-mates were quick to tell Morgan they thought he'd won - though that's to be expected. But then Welsh coaches approached Morgan and Shatford to tell them they thought the Kiwis were unlucky.
The English coaches looked sheepish and did not celebrate the victory while a member of the New Zealand team said an English coach told them the win left them with an uneasy feeling.
New Zealand's last female hope, Magan Maka was also beaten in her quarterfinal.
Maka did not have luck on her side, but was smiling after her loss to Canada's Ariane Fortin.
She said having a first round bye wasn't helpful as it meant she missed out on a bout before going up against gold medal favourite Fortin.
Earlier Light won his quarterfinal, but the young Auckland heavyweight won't have his parents in the Glasgow crowd when he receives his medal because father Len was too ill to travel.
Light is guaranteed at least a bronze medal after beating Kenya's Charles Okoth is today's quarterfinal. The medal, whichever one he gets, will be dedicated to his parents and is due to their sacrifice and support.
Light, 22, quit his job for Auckland landscaping company KB Construction at the start of the year to focus on his boxing and has now set-up home back with his parents Len and Cathy.
And when he needed to stump up with plenty of money to fight overseas, it was his parents he called.
"It's been five years to get to this point," he said after his quarterfinal win today.
"International events are what you need, if this had been my first international event, I would have bombed. To get to Europe from New Zealand for boxing can be five grand there, five grand back so it's a bit of a rich man's sport."
The New Zealand Olympic Committee raised the bar for boxers who now need to prove they're capable of more than just competing at Oceania level.
Light and others not already considered in the elite needed to fund themselves to get to Europe to take on the best.
For Light that's meant two trips to Serbia in the last two years, one to China and one to Finland.
"It's just, 'hey mum, can you give me $10,000'," he said before calling them and their support "amazing".
"I think [his medal] means a lot to them, they'll see it all worth it.
"They were going to come, but my dad's a bit sick.
"He's okay, he had his third stroke in 2012. He's over the moon. He's always been really supportive.
"I skyped them and they watched the replay. They were all bursting into tears, they're happy as."
And so is Light, though now he's guaranteed a medal, he'd rather it is gold.
He's got a top opportunity in the semifinal, too. He takes on Scottish brawler Stephen Lavellle.
The pair have met before - two years ago - and Light won.
"And I think I'm a better fighter than then."
Nyika was already into the semifinals courtesy of his quarterfinal win yesterday.