Bay spectators crucial to Josh in title bout

By SHANE HURNDELL


Mention Excessive Force Fight Nights and it seldom takes long for Josh Maloney's name to pop up in conversation.

The Hawke's Bay kickboxer has been a crowd favourite at the annual event organised by his Zero Tolerance Gym.

It seems every one of his Hawke's Bay-based relations, and there are heaps of them, and all of his old schoolmates from his days at Napier Boys' High School turn up to cheer him on.

It's usually only a matter of seconds before Maloney's enthusiastic and full on style has the crowd on their feet.

His second round knockout of Gisborne's Ben Florance in 2007 is still regarded as one of the best bouts in the history of the event as Florance was 20cm taller and 4kg heavier than Maloney.

A veteran of six years in the sport, Maloney, 23, said such crowd support could prove the difference when he fights Wairarapa's Cody Tomuri for the vacant International Kick Boxing Federation North Island Super Middleweight belt in the feature bout of tomorrow night's Excessive Force Fight in Napier's Rodney Green Centennial Events Centre.

"Cody has been around for a while and is in his 30s. He has a lot of experience ... it's going to be tough," Maloney said as he pondered his chances in the full Muay Thai rules bout which is scheduled for five two minutes rounds.

"But I'm feeling fit and ready," Maloney said.

The KiwiRail remote control operator is eager to redeem himself after a split decision loss in last year's Excessive Force Fight Night when he took on Palmerston North's Shannon Martin for the vacant IKBF Middleweight title.

This is his only loss in three Excessive Force appearances.

"I lost my last fight on points which was my first fight at the July Four-Man event in Auckland so I'm eager to return to the winning path," Maloney explained.

The Dion Crouch-trained fighter, who boasts a nine-win, four-loss record, has been training for tomorrow night's fight for the past six weeks.

"I couldn't be happier with how the training has gone," Maloney said. Before working for KiwiRail Maloney worked in the forestry industry.

"I've been out of the forestry scene for almost two year now. I have a lot more energy for training and fighting these days and my KiwiRail job is just playing Play Station so I don't get as tired as I did in the forestry," Maloney explained.

While crowd support will be crucial tomorrow night Maloney believes his power and technique are big assets.

He knows a win against Tomuri, who has fought at world championship level, will provide opportunities for him to fight for South Pacific titles and other national titles.

"I really want a New Zealand title," Maloney said.

He regards his 2007 victory against Florance as the highlight of his fighting career in New Zealand and a 2008 win in Thailand as his best performance overseas.

Needless to say, a win tomorrow night will supersede both of those highlights.

Although there have been a couple of withdrawals, organisers were expecting at least 12 fights to be on tomorrow night's card.

Among other Bay fighters matched are Stacey McKinley, Dwain Aiono and James Leadbetter.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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