Kickboxing: Relaxed Morrell to avenge defeat

By Shane Hurndell

One has to admire Hawke's Bay kickboxer Tony Morrell's relaxed approach to the biggest bout of his career tomorrow night.

"These sort of fights can swing both ways ... your way or the other way, it's no use stressing out about it. It only takes one kick or one punch and I'll be giving it my all.

"I'm just grateful Dallas has given me the opportunity to fight him again," Morrell said.

He was referring to fellow Bay fighter Dallas Peneha who he will fight for the vacant North Island Middleweight under-76kg title belt in one of two North Island title fights at the Zero Tolerance Club's Excessive Force Fight Night in the Rodney Green Centennial Events Centre. Peneha, who is taller and at 31 eight years younger than Morrell, beat Morrell by a unanimous points decision when they met earlier this year.

"I learnt a lot from that fight. Being smaller I have to get inside as quick as I can and take his legs out as fast as I can," Morrell explained.

The Heinz Wattie's worker has a four-year background in karate and kickboxing. He has a four-win, three-loss record in kickboxing.

"I also teach kickboxing and taekwondo at the Bay City club. People tell me I'm at the age where teaching should be my sole focus but I can't keep away from the ring," Morrell said.

Three weeks after tomorrow night's bout he will fight in a charity boxing event at Taradale's Pettigrew-Green Arena. The self-trained Morrell of Hastings will have Roger Mahu and Daniel Apera in his corner for the fight, scheduled for five two-minute rounds.

Morrell has been training three times a week for the past two months for the fight.

Napier's Peneha said there would be no complacency in his camp.

"Tony would have done his homework and I'm keen to keep the belt in our club," Peneha said, referring to the fact the previous holder of the belt was Zero Tolerance clubmate Josh Maloney who has moved to Australia with work commitments.

A black belt holder in taekwondo, Peneha, has been with the Zero Tolerance Club for four years and has a six-win, three-loss record in kickboxing.

"Dion gave me the push I needed and I haven't looked back," Peneha said referring to his trainer Dion Crouch.

Like Morrell, Peneha, intends to stay as relaxed as possible in the build-up to the fight, which is also the biggest of his career.

"I used to get nervous but I don't anymore. I like to stay relaxed and visualise the win and this week I'll be able to help some of our other fighters before I start to prepare for my fight.

"This week we've got Zero Tolerance fighters in every fight so it's our fighters against everyone else," Peneha said.

A winery cellar hand, Peneha, is keen to return to winning ways after losing to Taranaki's Dwayne Flowers in his last fight six weeks ago. Since then he has been training four times a week for tomorrow night's event.

Peneha said his favourite hobby was snowboarding and its ideal for strengthening his legs.

His long-term goals are to fight for a national title and to fight and train in Thailand.

Another convincing win against Morrell tomorrow night will be further proof he is more than ready to pursue those goals.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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