Hawke's Bay boxing trainer Craig McDougall reckons he boasts a bit of knowledge on Hamilton fighter Jarrod Banks.
It's fair to say McDougall will be getting more than a few sideways glances from his Hastings Giants Boxing Academy boxer Saili Fiso if he doesn't know everything there is to know about Banks who Fiso will meet in his first elite men's 81kg class fight over three three-minute rounds at the Rotorua-hosted national championships tonight.
Banks was the No 1 fighter in the New Zealand team McDougall was an assistant trainer for at the Oceania Championships on the Gold Coast in June.
"Saili has been matched with Jarrod a couple of times this year but for injuries and other reasons the fight hasn't happened. He's been waiting for three to four months for this one ... he's ready," McDougall said, as the Central Hawke's Bay club contingent relaxed in Rotorua last night.
"It's Saili's first nationals and he knows the importance of taking things one round at a time. We've got a plan but as Mike Tyson once said ... everyone has got a plan until they get punched in the face."
A 24-year-old Hastings barber, Fiso, has been boxing for three years and arrived in Rotorua with a record of 14 wins and two losses on his CV.
Although he watched Banks fight a couple of months ago and has plenty of respect for his orthodox style as well as the pressure, strength and powerful body blows he can bring to the ring, Fiso is confident he can out-think him.
"I like the mental side of boxing and I'm pretty happy with my endurance and fitness," Fiso said.
Fiso knows he has to win three bouts this week if he is to return home with the title. Like McDougall, Fiso, also knows a title will see him selected in New Zealand squads and international bouts are his next goal after the nationals, which have attracted 150 boxers.
Fellow CHB fighter Sam Nicol, 16, will aim to win his second consecutive national title when he takes on Nelson's Saxon Ferris in the junior men's 52kg class final tomorrow night. Last year he won the junior men's 46kg class title unopposed.
A Napier Boys' High School year 11 student, Nicol, has boxed for five years but admitted to knowing nothing about Ferris.
"I've never heard of him and I haven't been able to find any footage on him. Sometimes that can be a good thing and sometimes it can be a bad thing but I'm ready."
"It's time for all the hard work and dedication to pay off," Nicol said referring to his training schedule which is similar to Fiso's.
The pair train six days each week and for four or five of those days twice a day. Nicol runs most mornings.
"My long-term goal is the 2024 Olympics and I don't do any other sports so I can give myself the best possible chance of getting there."
Nicol, who has won 15 of his 30 fights, listed endurance, fitness, speed and straight punches when quizzed about his strengths. And his boxing hero?
"Floyd Mayweather ... if I end up with a bank account 20 per cent the size of his I'll be a happy man," he joked.
McDougall pointed out Nicol has progressed well in the buildup to the nationals.
"Sam is excited and prepared. It's good he only has one fight as we can treat it like any other tournament. It's important we keep things relaxed ... we play a bit of table tennis and go for bike rides. Sam also has a bit of schoolwork to do during his down time.
"He is just as good with his academic pursuits as he is with his boxing. With our fighters we make sure they do just as well in business, their jobs or schooling as they do in the ring."
The championships end with elite open finals on Friday night.