Pro believes the future is bright for Kiwi boxing, thanks to the rising young Hamilton star, BEN STRANG reports.
The future of New Zealand boxing is bright, according to New Zealand heavyweight champ Joseph Parker.
Parker visited Hamilton yesterday to meet up with Commonwealth Games gold medallist David Nyika at Ringside Gym.
It was the first time Parker has visited Ringside since a training camp there before the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games.
Back then Nyika weighed about 40kg and, as Parker showed, stood up to about his chest.
Now Nyika has a small height advantage, but there is still a big difference in the bulk the two boxers carry around.
''I'm real happy with how his performance is going. It's history. We haven't had a gold medal for a long time, and a silver medal [to David Light],'' Parker said.
''We both attended the Commonwealth Games at the same age. He was able to achieve this, which is awesome for our country and I'm definitely proud of him.
''He's doing a good job with his coaches and his team. He's on the right track. I know that he's looking forward to Rio, and I know that he'll get there.''
Parker fell short of qualifying for the London Olympics in 2012, leading to a professional switch that year.
Since then he has fought and won 10 times, winning nine by knockout, forging a promising career under the tutelage of Kevin Barry.
Parker and Nyika shared stories about their time in the New Zealand camps at the Commonwealth Games, and also talked about their current training set-ups.
Nyika asked Parker about life in Las Vegas, and mentioned his homesickness while away in Glasgow, and Parker said it was the same for him for his first year based away from home.
They went on to talk about the fighters Nyika expects to fight in coming years, and in particular the contrasting styles Cuban and Russian boxers have to the rest of the world.
Parker has no doubt about the talent at Nyika's disposal, and compared him to one of the greats of the sport. ''He's got good height, good speed.
He does what you're supposed to be doing in boxing which is to hit and don't get hit.
''[He reminds me of] someone like Floyd [Mayweather Jnr], who doesn't get hit. He's really good defensively and he's elusive, moves around, dodges a lot of the punches.
''You last long in this sport with that kind of style.''
Nyika weighs in at about 81kg, but that should grow as he naturally bulks up.
In the next year Nyika will likely move into the heavyweight class in amateur boxing, and will head to Rio in that weight grade.
Whether that means the two will face off in the ring one day is uncertain, but in the meantime Nyika said he uses Parker as an inspiration to push himself in the ring.
''He's an inspiration of mine, he's the kind of person I admire,'' Nyika said.
''He's in the sport to better New Zealand boxing and I think he's doing a real good job of it.
''I think the fact that we can have a yarn about our experiences, I think we're on the same level. We can just chat about all the tournaments.''
Parker talked about his training for the Delhi Games and London Olympic preparation, and Nyika said he had learnt from what he was told.
''He's really turned up the heat in terms of training, you know. He said he got up to about 118kg when he was in the amateurs, and since then he's really worked hard in the gym.
''I think [in London Olympic qualifying there was] a bit of complacency in his training. Boxers get like that. Everybody has lows and highs in boxing, and this is one of my highs.
''I've just got to stay positive and keep working hard."
- Waikato Times
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