Kiwi boxer David Nyika claims gold medal

IAN ANDERSON AND MATT RICHENS IN GLASGOW
Last updated 08:26 03/08/2014

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New Zealand has claimed a boxing 1-2 this morning with a gold medal to David Nyika in the light heavyweight division and a silver to heavyweight David Light.

Nyika won his gold in emphatic fashion on a unanimous points decision, while Light was beaten on a split decision by Canada's Samir El-Mais.

Nyika's gold was New Zealand's first in Commonwealth Games boxing since 1990, when Michael Kenny won the super heavyweight division in front of a home crowd in Auckland.

In the fight, the 18-year-old, adorned in all blue, looked to stave off Kennedy St Pierre of Mauritius in the first of three three-minute rounds among a charged atmosphere created by around 10,000 fans at the Hydro arena.

St Pierre regularly forced him back onto the ropes, but Nyika’s long left arm and quick reactions kept him mostly out of trouble.

The Mauritian continued to throw a lot of punches in the second round, but just as he looked like tiring and Nyika was getting on top, he tagged the Kiwi who quickly shook it off and celebrated with a wee first pump.

The judges had him marginally ahead entering the third round, and both tired fighters continued to slug it out looking for the crucial edge as time ticked down.

Nyika was a late inclusion in the New Zealand team for Glasgow - after impressing in tournaments in Europe, he got in by winning his class at the North Island Golden Gloves tournament two months ago.

But the 1.91m fighter instantly looked at home in the ring in Glasgow.

He began his campaign with a split-decision win over South Africa’s Luvuyo Sizani and improved on that with a unanimous decision over home nation favourite Scott Forrest. 

He then beat India's Sumit Sangwan by the same manner in his quarterfinal before dispatching Northern Ireland's Sean McGlinchy in a dominant display over the last two rounds.

Nyika’s fellow Kiwi pugilist was next up, also fighting for gold in the men’s heavyweight final against Canada’s Samir El-Mais on the last night of the boxing programme in Glasgow.

The first three bouts on the night’s card were all won by English fighters.

LIGHT WINS SILVER

David Light might be returning to New Zealand with a silver medal, but the 22-year-old Aucklander has all the skills to become New Zealand boxing's next golden boy.

Light this morning lost the Commonwealth Games men's heavyweight final to Canada's Samir El-Mais.

He was beaten in a split decision in front of 10,000 fans in Glasgow's SSE Hydro.

Light, a clever student who speaks fluent Mandarin, quit his job and moved back to his parents' house so he could save money and focus on boxing, is one of a number of the current New Zealand team whose careers are worth keeping an eye on.

And though he couldn't win Glasgow gold, there's a lot to like about him and his future.

Light spent plenty of time on the front foot in the opening three minutes, but all three judges gave the round to El-Mais.

Light had been unable to land any serious blows and though he used his jab to push the Canadian backwards, El-Mais landed the better of the few scoring blows.

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Both were more aggressive in the second round, but again defence out-shone attack for large parts.

Light, who has a strong technical game, opted for more power in the second round and it worked.

Two of the three judges awarded the Kiwi the round, but that still left him level on two judges' cards and behind on the other.

An early left from El-Mais struck Light well and halted the Kiwi's progress momentarily.

El-Mais may have thought he was behind as the big Canadian started throwing big bombs in the final 90 seconds.

Light avoided them and countered with a few of his own but it wasn't enough to swing the result his way.

In the fight before Light's, David Nyika, the 18-year-old from Hamilton used his phenomenal speed to beat Mauritius' Kennedy St Pierre in a unanimous decision.

Nyika got the nod from two of the three judges in each of the three rounds to seal New Zealand's first boxing Games medal in 12 years and first gold in 24.

To reach this morning's final, Light knocked out Malaysia's Meeraj Omar in the second round, comfortably beat Kenya's Charles Odhiambo Okoth by unanimous points decision then slipped past local hope Stephen Lavelle in yesterday's semifinal, also on points.

Light wasn't convinced he'd won yesterday's fight labelling it too close to call and he expected the strong crowd might have helped sway the judges decision against him.

They didn't and Light joined Nyika in the finals.

Earlier in the finals session, Englishman Scott Fitzgerald won the gold in the welterweight session.

Kiwi welterweight Bowyn Morgan lost his quarterfinal to Fitzgerald in a shock decision which left even Fitzgerald's coaches looking sheepish and coaches of other fighters to tell Morgan and the Kiwi camp they thought the four-time New Zealand champion was robbed.

New Zealand's boxing two medals marks a huge return for the Kiwi team.

In Delhi four years ago they won nothing and that team included New Zealand professional boxing golden boy Joseph Parker.

- Stuff

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