Sky Super 8 success means more in pipeline

LIAM NAPIER
Last updated 13:38 08/06/2014
Kali Meehan
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LAST MAN STANDING: Kali Meehan has his arm raised after winning the Super 8 'Last Man Standing' championship bout at Trusts Stadium.

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Sky Arena is here to stay in the boxing market, with Super 8 set for round two in four months.

Despite the main attraction, former world champion Hasim Rahman, being a major disappointment, organisers have deemed New Zealand's inaugural prizefighter tournament, which sold out West Auckland's Trusts Stadium last Wednesday night, a success.

Plans are already afoot to improve the event, won by expat Kiwi Kali Meehan. But it seems the all-action format and heavyweight division will be retained for the second edition, expected to be held in October.

"The event was a massive success for us," Super 8 organiser Mark Keddell said. "We hit the numbers we were after.

"We're an event and pay-per- view company and we're in this industry long-term. We're pretty keen for another event in September or October.

"There's absolutely some tweaks we will make to the event but we think the format is really good. We may change how many undercard fighters we have; we might look to shorten the show slightly.

"With Klitschko dominating, there's a lot of good heavyweights wanting to come and fight, earn some good money and put it all on the line."

During a review of the $500,000 event this Wednesday, attention will quickly turn to which fighters will be welcomed back and others who could be lured.

It would not surprise to see Brian Minto, who fights Joseph Parker next month, compete in the next event. Englishman Michael Sprott, who lost to Meehan in the final, and tough Irishman Martin Rogan also appeared at home in this format.

"We haven't decided which guys we'll bring back. What Antz Nansen and Bryce Ritani-Coe did as real underdog Kiwis was awesome. I can see us wanting to bring them back."

Meehan is not guaranteed to defend his title and may have his sights set on luring David Tua out of retirement.

"Kali Meehan says he wants to fight David Tua. He's had him on his list. He's the forgotten Kiwi."

Keddell acknowledged Rahman - upset by Kiwi kickboxer Nansen, who banked $30,000 in prize money - didn't live up to expectations and wouldn't be on the next card.

"We were disappointed with how Rahman fought. It looked like he had some mobility issues when he was in the ring. He was in shape but there was something wrong with his hip. He didn't deliver what we wanted, but that's sport. I still think Hasim Rahman is still a force if he can work on his hip, but we won't bring him back in this format."

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American Alonzo Butler, the secondary favourite, also made a hasty exit after being dumped out in the first round by Ritani-Coe, who also collected $30,000.

"Alonzo Butler looked good but he didn't throw enough punches. He fought like it was a 12-round fight and got a wake-up call with the format more than anything else."

A refreshingly credible undercard was possibly the highlight of the night. Heavyweight prospect Hemi Ahoi showcased his credentials with a commanding win over William Quarrie, and Lower Hutt's Joe Blackbourn and New Plymouth's Sam Rapira maintained their unbeaten records.

- Sunday News

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