Hawke's Bay kickboxer Josh Maloney is ready for regular international fights according to Cody Tomuri.
Wairarapa's Tomuri wasted little time in predicting a bright future for Maloney on the international stage after losing to him by a fourth round TKO in their challenge for the vacant International Kick Boxing Federation Middleweight belt on Saturday night.
"Josh is so strong and powerful ... I've watched him progress during the last five years," Tomuri said after their fight which was the feature bout at the annual Excessive Force Fight Night in Napier's Rodney Green Centennial Events Centre.
"There's no other feeling. I'm over the moon," Maloney said as he reflected on the highlight of his six years in the sport.
The 23-year-old KiwiRail remote control operator, who fights for the host gym Zero Tolerance, knocked Tomuri to the canvas twice during the first round of their bout which was scheduled for five two minute rounds.
Tomuri, who is no stranger to international competition, was more competitive in the second round but Maloney knocked him to the canvas as the round ended.
Maloney again put him down in the third round and when he repeated the feat 31 seconds into the fourth round the referee stopped the contest and Maloney's supporters among the crowd of 590 paid him the ultimate compliment after he buckled the belt on his waist, a rendition of popular Ngati Kahungunu haka Tika Tonu.
"All the hard training with Dion [Crouch] paid off. It was good to do it for Mum who made another long trip to watch," Maloney said referring to his mother Ruth Deverell-Stewart, who lives in Hamilton.
"I've been off the beers for the past eight weeks ... I think I'm allowed a few tonight," Maloney added before joining his victory celebrations.
Maloney has a record of 10 wins and four losses while father-of-two Tomuri, 32, has six wins and 10 losses.
"I was a little nervous before the fight because I had to go up a couple of divisions from my normal fighting weight of 68kgs to the 76kg level," Tomuri added.
Putanga Gym fighter Kahi Hanara of Hastings missed out on a winning farewell before announcing his retirement when beaten by a split decision by Torp Henry of Zero Tolerance in their three two minute rounds amateur bout.
"I did too much in my warm up and got a bit tired towards the end of the fight. If I was 10 years younger I would carry on but that's it I'm finished," Hanara said.
The 37-year-old had eight fights, four wins and four losses, during a 12-month career.
"I want to get back to 100kgs and enjoy life again," said Hanara, who had to weigh in at 79kgs for the fight.
Henry, 38, recorded his first win in three outings and is the father of 12-year-old Tamatea Intermediate student Kiri Henry who impressed in her novice fight against Regan Chambers of the New Zealand Fight Shop in Palmerston North.
"Kiri drives me to keep fighting and I didn't want to let her down tonight," Henry said.
While winners aren't announced in novice fights 18-year-old Zero Tolerance fighter Stacey Mckinlay proved she has enormous potential with some classy domination of Caitlin Pirie of the New Zealand Fight Shop.
"That's my first fight after four years of training. It was an unbelievable experience ... I want to continue on and fight for national and world titles," said Mckinlay who is a former judo exponent.
The former Taradale High School student played canoe polo for a couple of years and this was a key factor in her tremendous upper body strength.
Another Zero Tolerance fighter to impress on debut was Sean Murphy. He won his 68kg X-treme Muay Thai bout against Craig Gibbs of the New Zealand Fight Shop when it was stopped by the referee 90 seconds into the first round. James Leadbetter was the only Zero Tolerance fighter to lose on the night when beaten by a unanimous points decision in a 69kg X-treme Muay Thai bout against Tanera Terry of the New Zealand Fight Shop.