Boxer has dirty secret

By Shane Hurndell

Hawke's Bay boxer Tipene Maniapoto has never been one for superstition ... except when it comes to his wraps.

"I don't wash my wraps. I don't like the fresh stuff," explained Maniapoto.

He was referring to a ritual which sees him fight with the same wraps on he has trained with during a week leading up to a bout. The ritual has proved successful during a five-year fighting career with the Napier Boxing Club which saw him record 14 wins and two losses.

Pundits are tipping (if you will excuse the pun) the superstition to receive it's toughest test when Maniapoto, 23, takes on Dan "The Grave Digger" Digby in the feature fight at the Battle for Life fundraiser for Child Cancer Foundation's Hawke's Bay branch in the Hawke's Bay Bay Opera House on September 8.

Although Digby, a four-time national mixed martial arts champion, will be boxing for the first time, pre-fight talk from those in the know suggests Maniapoto has yet to take on someone with as much tenacity and mongrel as Digby. Maniapoto accepts it won't be an easy bout.

"I'm expecting a decent fight ... we both like a challenge," 2009 North Island and Manawatu novice champion Maniapoto said.

The former middle and light heavyweight boxer has been training three times a week for the past three weeks for the fight.

"It's been good to get back into the boxing rhythm again," Maniapoto, who has been kickboxing for the past year, said.

His Zero Tolerance Gym trainer Dion Crouch is preparing him for his fight. Maniapoto's biggest concern is the fact their fight is last on the card.

"The wait might make me a bit nervous but fortunately we've got another fighter from our gym so supporting him will keep me occupied," Maniapoto said referring to Norm Zonnevald.

A big fan of Muhammad Ali during his youth, Maniapoto is prepared to dance like Ali did if that's what it takes to beat Digby during their fight which is scheduled for three two minute rounds.

A roofer with Martin Roofing, Maniapoto, said the roofing work compliments his training.

Digby, 29, was originally scheduled to fight Napier kickboxer Shaun Rankin. But Rankin withdrew.

"Shaun is a lot taller than me and I was preparing accordingly. I've got an inch on Tip and the aim is still the same ... I'm still going out there to put Tip on the floor."

"Tip and I have sparred with each other so we're not strangers to each other," Digby explained.

A Tamatea premier club rugby player, Digby, trains every day of the week at his new Orphans Gym in Hastings and has set aside two of those as "hands only days" with his trainer Gareth Burke.

"Gareth likes boxing and because of our mixed martial arts experience we're backing ourselves," Digby said.

He has no qualms with the fight being the last on the card as most of his mixed martial arts bouts are the last of the night. He isn't sacrificing any of his pre-scheduled fights in the buildup and on the weekend prior to taking on Maniapoto Digby will compete at a wrestling tournament in Palmerston North.

With a 15 win and four loss MMA record Digby is regarded as one of the best fighters in the Bay. His aim is to become one of the country's best and his four national titles suggest he is on the right path.

Other bouts

Theresa O'Brien v Caryn Paewai, Andy Bishop v Steve Elliot, Nathan Leach v Paul Tuala-Fata, Rangi Rehu v Shane Laking, Puhi Rapaea v Farrell Chrystal, Norm Zonnevald v Mario Kearney, Henare Davis v Manu Petera, Maria Apera-Jones v Renee Allan, Paul Topless v Andy Barham, Mike Downard v Robert Whaitiri, Larissa Anderson v Sara Rangi.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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