Boxing: Taylor and Tai ready to rumble

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FIRED UP: Jonathan Taylor, left, and Jordan Tai square off at the weigh-in yesterday. PHOTO/Supplied
FIRED UP: Jonathan Taylor, left, and Jordan Tai square off at the weigh-in yesterday. PHOTO/Supplied

Jordan Tai and Jonathan Taylor are in top shape for tonight's 10-round contest for the IBO Oceania super-middleweight and NZPBA super-middleweight titles in Auckland that will catapult the winner up the IBO's rankings and into world title relevance.

Tai, who defended his NZNBF super-middleweight title with a spectacular first-round knockout of the previously undefeated Joe Blackbourn in May, weighed in at 75.6kg.

A victory for Tai would hand him both New Zealand professional titles and his first regional belt - an important stepping stone to global relevance.

Tauranga's Taylor, a huge puncher who has finished two of his last three fights inside the first minute, tipped the scales at a ripped 75.4kg, meaning neither fighter will carry a meaningful weight advantage.

"I'm pumped," said Taylor. "I'm ready. I came back to New Zealand from Australia to win a national title, and now I've got the chance. This is huge."

Tai has insisted he is wary of Taylor despite having a huge advantage in experience thanks mainly to a 77-fight professional kickboxing career.

"This guy [Taylor] can really punch," Tai said. "We know that. So anything could happen. I don't think it will go the distance."

Tai v Taylor is the feature clash of Big Bash Six, which will also showcase rising Kiwi stars Junior Fa, Mose Auimatagi Jr, Nikolas Charalampous and Baybee Nansen.

"Once again we've compiled an outstanding card that Kiwi fight fans will relish, Big Bash director Andrew Higgins said.

Higgins, who doubles as Tai's manager and promoter, acknowledged that taking on Taylor was a risky move as he looked to position the 34-year-old veteran for an international campaign.

"Jordan has an edge in experience, but one punch is all it will take to turn this fight on its head," he said.

Undisputed New Zealand middleweight champion Mose Auimatagi Jr (74.7kg) will have a 1.3kg weight advantage as he takes on Napier's Pumipi Ngaronoa (73.4kg).

Popular undefeated cruiserweight contender Nikolas Charalampous (94kg) will clash with the "Bluff Brawler" Tom Heads (95.30kg) in what is sure to be another barnstorming affair.

Undefeated heavyweight prospect Fa (7-0 4K.O.) weighed in at 122.85kg as he continues his pursuit of former amateur rival Joseph Parker. Fa takes on Dannevirke kickboxer Moe Hussain (118.00kg), while rising star Baybee "Pitbull" Nansen (59.45kg) meets Rotorua's Wendy Talbot in what will be a high quality female bout.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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