David Nyika picked up an impressive knockout victory in Australia on Saturday but a hand injury threatens his chances of winning an unprecedented third Commonwealth Games gold medal later this month.
The New Zealander knocked out Australian opponent Louis Marsters in the second round of their four-man round, which took place under the card of Jai Opetaia’s upset victory over heavyweight champion Mairis Briedis at the Gold Coast Convention Centre.
The resounding win sees cruiserweight Nyika move to 4-0 as a professional, with three knockouts.
But the 26-year-old struggled to remove one of his gloves after an existing issue erupted during the fight, AAP reported.
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With his left hand submerged in a bucket of ice, he admitted he would need the dust to settle before he appealed to the Birmingham Games.
“It’s an existing injury; I’ve had scans before (before I hurt him in the fight) and that comes with the territory,” Nyika told AAP.
“We will have to sit on it now and make decisions in the next few days.”
Nyika looked in fine form as he completely outclassed the inexperienced Marsters (1-3, 1 KO), pounding him with punches throughout the contest while largely dodging incoming shots.
The end came in the second round, when a left hook to the head and a vicious right to the body forced the plucky Aussie to take a knee.
Nyika may have been lucky not to be penalized for bludgeoning Marsters with a right hook to the head while he was down, just before the referee stepped in and pity him off.
Nyika is currently a promotional free agent and has worked with famed Australian trainer Noel Thornberry for his last two fights. He had previously been trained by Irishman Andy Lee – who also trains Kiwi heavyweight Joseph Parker – at Tyson Fury‘s Morecambe Gym.
Thornberry was buoyant after the Nyika win, confident he can compete with former world heavyweight title contender Alex Leapai.
“He’s the sleeper, but he can go all the way to the top,” Thornberry told AAP.
“We’ve had seven world title fights in our backyard and he’ll have eight.
“His boxing ability far exceeds not just Alex’s, but anyone’s.”
Nyika has expressed a desire to work with multiple coaches, depending on where he is in the world, as he adjusts to the professional scene.
Nyika, who has a British passport, could move to the UK, where he has already established links as a training partner with world champion Tyson Fury and fellow Kiwi player Joseph Parker, including trainer Andy Lee also worked with, AAP reported.
“It’s a good atmosphere right now; I’m enjoying development and learning about the business of sport,” Nyika said.
“Knowing the ins and outs of the business is just as important as what’s going on in the ring.
“And 100% I can add to the buzz around boxing in Australia right now… in the UK too.
“I’m in the best place to get all my ducks in a row and make a really solid charge at the world title.”
Prior to his decisive victory over Karim Maatalla in Melbourne last month, Nyika had not fought since last December, when he knocked out Frenchman Anthony Carpin in one round.
If his hand injury heals in time, the Olympic bronze medalist will lead a team of eight New Zealand boxers to the Commonwealth Games where he will compete in the heavyweight division. He has previously won gold at light heavyweight and heavyweight.
In the main event, Australia’s Opetaia pulled off a stunning upset as he edged Briedis of Latvia on points to become the new IBF heavyweight champion.
The Sydney-born slugger had to overcome adversity, suffering a broken jaw in the second round, but took out favorite Briedis (28-2, 20 KOs) to become Australia’s first world champion by weight.
– with PAA