All the build-up before yesterday's international fight night in New Plymouth centred on the Asia Pacific heavyweight title fight between American Billy Wright and American-based Kiwi Chauncy Welliver.
But what punters got for their money was some entertaining undercard bouts and to see the further development of hometown professional Sam Rapira.
The Taranaki boxer looked sharp and outboxed Waikato cruiserweight pro Kashif Mumtaz before putting him on the canvas 28 seconds into the second round to win by technical knockout.
If Rapira was sharp, the opponents for the main event were anything but. It was a major disappointment, encouraging heckling around the ring. Some of the 1100-strong crowd left TSB Stadium early and headed home in disgust.
The title fight turned into a farce after Welliver broke his arm early in the second round. He struggled on, jabbing with his left and shuffling around the ring before his corner pulled the pin after the fifth round.
"Chauncy wanted to go on, but his corner wouldn't let him," said referee Reg Williams.
It was a flat finish to a good night.
Rapira was relentless in his fight with Mumtaz, especially when the veteran pro started to stagger.
"My speed felt awesome, power felt awesome and I'm stoked," Rapira said after the fight.
"I took him to bits. He was never in the fight. So I'm really happy."
He is now primed to take on tougher opponents with more experience so he can be tested more.
"I need to go up another notch." He said his wrist, which had caused problems in his previous fight, was "sweet" now.
"Everything is sweet now. The adrenaline is pumping."
Fight night organiser Ashley Smith was pleased with the support the event received.
"Considering all the other events that are on around this time we're really pleased with the level of support. Now we need to build on it," he said.
"Boxing is not a big sport here, but we've developed a base now so we're chuffed".
Results of the other fights on the card were: Justice Grant beat Whitz Kerehome by majority decision; Maifea Maifea beat David Russell on points - all three judges scored it 30-27 in favour of Maifea; Ashley Derbyshire beat Freddy Miller by TKO; Abe Haira beat Egypt Tangitutu in a split decision; James Langton beat Bernard Higgins by knockout.
- Taranaki Daily News
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