Boxing: Meehan takes inaugural Super 8 final

By Daniel Richardson

Kali Meehan, from Australia. Photo / APN
Kali Meehan, from Australia. Photo / APN

Veteran Kiwi boxer Kali Meehan travelled far and wide to try and make a career from the sport but one of his biggest paydays eventually came in his own backyard.

Meehan, an Australian-based 44-year-old, claimed the inaugural Super 8 crown at Trusts Arena in Auckland last night with a first-round knockout of Englishman Michael Sprott in the final.

There hadn't been a knockout all night on the main card until Meehan caught Sprott early and followed up with a handful of heavy blows and when Sprott hit the canvas for the second time his corner threw in the towel.

Meehan's victory saw him claim a $200,000 winner's cheque, which was a fine score for a man who runs a security firm across the Tasman with a friend as his day job.

The 1.96m Meehan, who once challenged for the WBO heavyweight world title but lost a controversial split decision to Lamon Brewster in 2004, said it was nice to fight in his hometown.

"To establish my career I had to go overseas," Meehan said. "I stayed in some ghettoes in the States, just sparring guys."

Meehan, who moved to 41-5 for his career, grew up in Avondale and found boxing as a teenager and trained under Latu Raeli.

"It's like a reward for what he's put out for me," Meehan said of his win.

It appeared as though a couple of Meehan's shots illegally connected with the back of Sprott's head but the freshly-crowned champion didn't want to speculate on the punches.

"Don't ask me that. If I get him and he goes down, I'm happy ... Hey, it's a fight."

Meehan said it was too early to speculate on whether he would return to defend his championship next year, although his victory capped a good week for his family.

His teenage son Willis, who is a also a promising amateur boxer and rugby league player, was named as 18th man on Tuesday for the Sydney Roosters' game against the Melbourne Storm this weekend.

Meehan made his way to the showpiece fight with a unanimous decision win over Brice Ritani-Coe in the semifinals, which he set up with a knockdown in the first-round.

England's Sprott moved in to the final with a comfortable unanimous decision over kickboxing specialist Antz Nansen, who was a late wildcard entrant in the tournament after Nigerian Samuel Peter withdrew last month.

The upsets started early when Nansen tipped over No 1 seed, and the tournament's main draw card, Hasim Rahman with a unanimous decision win in the opening fight of the night.

Hometown judging was possibly the decider as Ritani-Coe edged American Alonzo Butler in their quarter-final with both big boppers failing to land many telling blows during the fight.

Meehan was also slightly lucky to advance past Australian heavyweight champion Hunter Sam first-up, in a curious split decision where the judges' scores weren't read out after the fight.

In the best bout of the first run of fights, Sprott edged Ireland's Martin Rogan by majority decision.

The undercard fights produced some entertaining affairs as heavyweight prospect Hemi Ahio remained undefeated after three professional fights as he stormed to a unanimous decision victory over Will Quarrie.

Lower Hutt super middleweight Joe Blackbourn produced a TKO win over Dimitri Simoukov after he stopped Simoukov in the third round to move to a perfect 5-0 in his professional career.

Promising Taranaki light heavyweight Sam Rapira scored a unanimous points win over durable veteran Taito Ratuere as the 30-year-old pushed his record to 7-0.

- APNZ

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