Starting rotation: Fighting back – Kiwi boxing punches above its weight

Trainer Isaac Peach, front right, and his brother Boaz have built a strong fighting staff.


Trainer Isaac Peach, front right, and his brother Boaz have built a strong fighting staff.

Boxing, one of the oldest and most fundamental sports, is making a comeback in New Zealand.

Just as it seemed like the Kiwi martial arts scene was about to be swamped by the rising force of MMA, boxing is hitting hard.

After relying on the international profile of former WBO Heavyweight Champion Joseph Parker for so long, these are exciting times for the pugilists here with a new wave of talent.


Win WBO belt in Manchester.

There is a strong group of boxers ranked in the top 10 by reputable organizations, and two world championship fights are imminent – cruiserweight David Light takes on WBO champion Lawrence Okolie in Manchester on March 26, and Mea Motu will headline Fight For Life Card 27 in Auckland on April 27 against Canada’s Tania Walters for the vacant IBO super-bantamweight belt.

* Ranking boost gives New Zealand middleweight Andrei Mikhailovich a taste of world title
* Mea Motu’s World Cup opponent confirmed the Fight for Life headline
* New date and location for David Light’s cruiserweight title fight

Light is ranked No. 1 by the WBO and for the past week he has been in the top 10 status of Andrei Mikhailovich (No. 5 IBF) and Jerome Pampellone (No. 10 IBF) in the top 10 -Status added.

Parker remains relevant in a highly competitive heavyweight division, ranking No. 7 in the WBO, No. 10 in the WBC and No. 8 on the prestigious Ring magazine’s independent list.

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With clever promotion from Dean Lonergan, now spreading his tentacles across the Tasman after successfully establishing himself in Australia, Mikhailovich and Pampellone could maneuver themselves into title fights if they maintain their unbeaten records.

Even more notable is the continued success of Peach Boxing, a West Auckland gym run by Isaac Peach, which is quickly becoming a global name.

Israel Adesanya's meteoric rise has kickstarted MMA in New Zealand following Mark Hunt's groundbreaking career.

John Locher/AP

Israel Adesanya’s meteoric rise has kickstarted MMA in New Zealand following Mark Hunt’s groundbreaking career.

It has Light, Mikhailovich, Pampellone, and Motu in its stable of fighters.

Peach Boxing seems poised to earn a reputation to rival Auckland’s notable City Kickboxing Gym, where, under the direction of Eugene Bareman, it has started the MMA scene with UFC stars like Israel Adesanya , Dan Hooker and Kai Kara France to dominate.

MMA may be the game of the current generation, followed by today’s youth, but boxing is not giving up the fight.

Top boxing still outweighs MMA in monetary rewards, although there is no easy path to fortune.

But gold is still out there to be mined. Sportico, the US-based “sports business” company, just released its 50 highest-paid athletes of all time.

There were seven boxers on the list, led by Floyd Mayweather in eighth with $2.13 billion. Only golf, with eight, and basketball, with 13, had more entries. Conor McGregor was the only MMA representative, ranked 33rd with his $1 billion.

Love it or hate it – and most traditionalists regret it – the profile of boxing among the new generation has been greatly raised in recent years with the emergence of prominent fighters like Jake Paul bringing millions of new viewers to the sport.

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Jake Paul brought a new wave of viewers to boxing in his fight against Tommy Fury.

Francois Nel/Getty Images

Jake Paul brought a new wave of viewers to boxing in his fight against Tommy Fury.

That’s a sign of boxing’s original fascination as well as these “influencers.” The combination of the two is a powerful cocktail of sporting intrigue.

All is not rosy in boxing, however, as it continues to be plagued by its murky shadow. Alarmingly, much of this is in the amateur ranks, threatening its long-term future where the International Boxing Association, led by Russia’s Umar Kremlev, remains at odds with the International Olympic Committee.

The IBA is under intense scrutiny following serious corruption allegations following an investigation into the standard for office at recent tournaments.

Boxing has been dropped from the “original” program for the Los Angeles 2028 Olympics and question marks remain over his status for Paris 2024 after his competition at the Tokyo 2020 Games was overseen by an outside task force.

Losing the Olympic goal would be catastrophic for such a historic sport.

But this is the future. Now it’s time to celebrate a new era in the Kiwi pro scene.

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