Rapira on Parker undercard
Will trade blows with Atalili FaiTONY BIRD
New Plymouth professional boxer Sam Rapira returns to the ring on the undercard of the heavyweight bout between Joseph Parker and Afa Tatupu in Auckland on October 10.
Event promoters Duco confirmed Rapira will trade blows with Wellington-based Samoan Atalili Fai in a light heavyweight bout.
'Sam "The Terror" Rapira" was fit and ready to fight on the undercard of the David Tua v Alexander Ustinov undercard last August. But the fight night was pushed back to November 16 to allow time for Tua to recover fully from a calf injury.
Rapira said that in some ways the forced break was a blessing.
"In retrospect it probably worked out well for me, because at the time things were tough getting the proper rest with our new baby," he said.
After knocking out Tongan Viliami Toafi after 2mins six seconds on the undercard of the Parker v Botha fight in the middle of last June, Rapira has been making regular weekly trips to Auckland to train under his and Tongan national coach Lolo Heimuli.
"Training has been going excellent," said Rapira yesterday. "Lolo is a very experienced pro coach and there's lot of little changes I've got to make to suit the pro style better.
"Obviously the more I get to work with him the better.
"It's easy to drift back into old bad habits otherwise."
Rapira said the other positive about training in Auckland is the quality of sparring partners.
"You can choose a specific style of fighter that is similar to your opponent. It's good that way."
Rapira's opponent Atalili Fai is a veteran of the sport at 43 and has a pro cruiserweight record of one win from 12 appearances as a cruiserweight.
Rapira admits Fai's record is less then spectacular on paper, but he said he won't be taking the Samoan lightly.
"He's fought the who's who in the cruiserweight division," he said. "Boxers like Brad Pitt, who is fighting Shane Cameron next, Daniel Ammann, who has fought Shane Cameron, and Moyoyo Mensah, who was the African cruiserweight champion."
Rapira will be the lightest boxer Atalili has fought.
"So I'll be looking to to use my speed," Rapira said. That's what I'll bring to the table."
After his bout against Atalili, Rapira will back just five weeks later against his fight against English-born and Wellington-based pro light-heavyweight Richard Hackney on the Tua undercard in Hamilton.
"I'll have enough time to recover and get straight back into it," Rapira said.
Rapira is hoping to get some "hometown" support ringside at his next two fights.
"It would be great to get some supporters up there to make a bit of noise. It's a big help.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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