One gold medal and three spirited performances were the reward for the four Tauranga Boxing Club members who competed in the Boxing New Zealand National Championships held in Rotorua last week.
Hannah Walker, 15, faced a formidable challenge to win the Junior Female 54kg division against Leoni Rosin in the title decider on Thursday evening. Her South Auckland opponent had international experience on her sporting resume having participated at the world junior kickboxing championships.
"The bout went down to the wire with Hannah digging deep and showing her skills to take out a narrow 3-2 split decision," Tauranga Boxing Club head coach and proud father Chris Walker said.
"Three of the judges gave Hannah the nod with two giving her all three rounds."
Ari Arlington, who was one of the Tauranga boxers to attend her first national championships, impressed in her two bouts before bowing out in the semifinals.
"Ari made a superb start stopping Ruby Tufuga with a body shot in her first fight. In her second bout, she faced five-time national titleholder Deanne Carpenter in an action-packed bout, with Ari narrowly losing by way of a split decision," Walker said.
Senior middleweight Brady Lesa also emerged with a huge amount of credit from the Boxing New Zealand showcase, Walker said.
"After beating Curtis Dodunski by a majority decision in his preliminary bout, Brady put up a brave performance in the semifinals, being defeated by middleweight silver medallist Francis Waitai."
On the opening day, Michael Crosa, with just four fights behind him, squared off with 48-fight veteran Junior Acero in the preliminary rounds of the Junior Male 60kg division.
"Michael was unlucky to be on the wrong end of a split decision, with his Canterbury opponent grabbing victory by way of a 3-2 points win," Walker said. "The split decision loss to a quality opponent highlights the huge potential that Michael possesses.
"The most promising part of the Bay of Plenty team was the future potential that our four fighters showed on the big stage. All four will benefit from the Rotorua nationals experience and we look forward to the 2018 nationals, where we will be targeting national titles with some genuine degree of confidence."
Boxing New Zealand National Championships 2017
JF 54kg Hannah Walker (Bay of Plenty) df Leoni Rosin (South Auckland) 3-2
Day Three Semifinals
EW 75kg Deanne Carpenter (South Auck) df Ari Arlington (BOPP 3-1
EM Middleweight Francis Waitai (Auckland) df Brady Lesa (BOP) 5-0
EM Middleweight Brady Lesa (BOP) df Curtis Dodunski (Kirikiriroa) 5-0
Junior Female 54kg Hannah Walker (BOP) won by walkover
Youth Male 60kg Junior Acero (Cant Metro) df Michael Crosa (BOP) 3-2
Elite Women 75kg Ari Ardlington (BOP) df Ruby Tufuga (Manawatu) RSC