The prospect of the UFC coming to New Zealand shores may be a step closer, after Sky TV's move into event promotion for Kiwi star Mark Hunt.
Sky have taken on promotional duties for Hunt, New Zealand's leading UFC fighter, although they say they are not going to become formal athlete agents, instead "promoting" their interests outside the ring.
Sky chief executive John Fellet said UFC shows rated well for pay per view buys. "We would like to have an UFC fight here. There is certainly a great deal of interest in that from us, and we would like that to happen in the first year."
Sky Arena want to do more with UFC, but their first promotion is the eight-man heavyweight knockout boxing contest Super Eight on June 4 in Auckland.
Kali Meehan, who left New Zealand to chase a fight career, is the first boxer confirmed for the Super Eight.
Over his career, Meehan experienced a world title fight, two eliminators, a messy entanglement with Don King.
The other seven names are likely to include a world titleholder. Meehan never quite reached that level - but he came as close as any Antipodean heavyweight.
Born in Avondale, Auckland, Meehan left for Australia at the age of 28, destined for a stint on a prawn trawler - but instead launched a boxing career across the Tasman where he fought Danny Williams, former world champion Hasim Rahman, DaVarryl Williamson (beating him at nine days' notice) and another former champ, Ruslan Chagaev, collecting a host of regional belts along the way but losing his only title shot - in controversial circumstances - to Lamon Brewster in 2004.
In between, he worked as everything from binman to bouncer, particularly during two years on the sideline, during which he saw seven fights canned. Meehan spent all that time as mandatory challenger for the WBA title without ever securing a fight, then saw his dreams falter four years ago, losing a title eliminator to Chagaev. While he was on King's books for many years, Meehan says he never heard from the infamous promoter again after losing to Chagaev.
Those disappointments have left him shy of making big predictions about the Super Eight. "To be honest, so many times I have planned for this and that, and it has never, ever eventuated," said Meehan, who always coveted a meeting with the now-retired David Tua to decide the best Australasian heavy of a generation.
"I wasn't making any more big plans, and then this Super Eight concept came up, and it has given me a bit of youth back. In a perfect world, I can fight the Super Eight, do well there, have a fight with David Tua and see what comes up - and if nothing else did, I would still be a happy man."
- Sunday Star Times
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