Boxing: New Kiwis train for Beijing bouts

By Peter Jessup

Two "new New Zealanders" and an Australian who spends a lot of time here are training in Auckland before significant boxing title fights overseas.

Paul Murdoch, from Geelong, has fought 10 of his 26 pro bouts in New Zealand and crosses the Tasman regularly in his job as a clothing importer and wholesaler.

Mohamed Azzaoui represented Algeria at the Sydney Olympics, and Peter Kariuku fought for Kenya in 2000. Both have since made New Zealand their home.

Murdoch meets Frenchman Fabrice Tiozzo in Paris on December 5 to challenge for the World Boxing Association light-heavyweight title.

Azzaoui defends his Pan Asian Boxing Association cruiserweight belt against Russian Yuri Tsarenko in Beijing on November 27 and Kariuku defends his PABA super-middleweight title against Tanzanian Joseph Marwa on the same card.

They have been sparring with each other in preparation.

Murdoch, 32, record 26-4 and one draw, is ranked eighth by the WBA. Azzaoui is 10th and Kariuku is expected to come into the listings when they are updated at the end of the month.

The Algerian, 28, married to Mihi from Ngawha, said he has enjoyed his time in New Zealand.

He has applied for citizenship and in two weeks starts work for Affco at the Moerewa freezing works.

He has been training through the fasting required by his Islamic religion during the month of Ramadan. Last year at this time he lost 11kg in two weeks and confesses he does get dizzy at times.

Kariuku has been mowing lawns while waiting for the past two years for his residency papers.

He has had 19 pro fights for 11 wins, six losses and two draws, one against Azzaoui.

The money he earns in boxing will allow him to go home to Kenya for Christmas this year, the first time he will have seen his family including three brothers, two sisters and a daughter to an estranged partner.

"I miss home but I enjoy it here," he said.

Mike Edwards, who promotes and manages all three, said China was becoming a huge market for boxing. More than 20,000 people were expected to attend the PABA title fight card.

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