The live and free-to-all internet stream of Kiwi boxing's showpiece event, Big Bash V, will begin with a fight to honour Metui Finau, a member of the West Auckland band Spacifix, who died suddenly at the age of just 29 from an undiagnosed heart condition in March.
Big Bash director Andrew Higgins confirmed Repeka Polamalu-Vilitau's three-round charity match against Vaitonga Tama Langi-Swann would be scheduled to kick off the start of the non-televised fights streaming live from 8pm on tv3.co.nz/bigbashboxing.
A health promotions facilitator at Kidz First Children's Hospital, Polamalu-Vilitau was a close friend of fellow Otara resident Mr Finau. A keen boxer, she decided to return to the ring to help support Mr Finau's family and raise money and awareness for Heart Kids NZ.
"When I was approached by one of the event organisers if I was interested in doing a charity fight to raise awareness and funds for a charity of my choice, I felt something stir within my spirit to do this for Metui and to dedicate this fight to him," she told Fairfax Media.
Finau was her biggest cheerleader at the G.Force Fight Night staged by her boxing gym in May last year.
"He was down at the ringside yelling and cheering me on so that I couldn't hear my coaches' voices yelling instructions to me.
"If Metui were here physically he would have encouraged me to do this fight - and raising funds for Heart Kids NZ is an added blessing," she says.
There has been plenty of controversy in the boxing community over the unauthorised streaming of Joseph Parker's last blockbuster fight against Carlos Takam.
Fight fans wishing to watch Parker take on Takam in a bid to become the IBF's mandatory title challenge were asked to fork out $50 to access the Pay Per View broadcast on SKY TV. Some instead chose to watch unauthorised streams on platforms such as Facebook.
Parker's promotor, Dean Lonergan of Duco Events, labelled those who watched the illicit streams "complete lowlife s***heads", and vowed to take legal action against those who streamed the fight on social media.
Big Bash Boxing on TV3 will kick off online at tv3.co.nz/bigbashboxing followed by a live stream of the televised event from 9.30pm on 3NOW. That's just over four hours of boxing free and direct.
"We understand Duco's frustration with illicit streaming but, quite frankly, that comes with the territory with pay per view events," says Big Bash promotor Andrew Higgins - brother of Duco founder David Higgins.
"Boxing may generate huge revenues for a very few people at its elite level, but it's actually always been a sport of the people and for the people - and we reckon everyone should be able to watch great boxers in action without having to pay through the nose. That's what Big Bash boxing is all about. We bring you the bang but you don't have to part with a heap of your bucks."
Headlined by a NZPBA title fight between Gunnar "The Stunna" Jackson - a fighter who went 10 rounds with Anthony Mundine in 2014 - and NZNBF middleweight champion "Iron" Mose Auimatagi Jnr, The Big Bash V card is chocked full of intriguing, explosive encounters.
Junior Fa, the towering heavyweight who denied Parker his dream of representing New Zealand at the Olympics, takes on Junior Pati - a cousin of former world heavyweight title challenger David Tua, while the card also features Shane Cameron's undefeated protégé Ricky "The Ghost" Murphy - the current NZPBA super welterweight champion - and the notorious Brown Buttabean.
BIG BASH V
• Top class boxing returns to New Zealand's TV screens, live and free-to-air on TV3 on Friday July 1.
• Two-hour 45-minute TV3 broadcast from 9.30pm to 12.15am on TV3 & streamed live on 3NOW.
• Non-televised fights will stream live from 8.00pm on tv3.co.nz/bigbashboxing.
• Six pro fights featuring Junior Fa (the man who twice beat Joseph Parker as an amateur), Gunnar Jackson, Mose Auimatagi, Ricky Murphy, Nik Charalampous and the notorious Brown Buttabean
• Pro fight card preceded by eight corporate fights
• GA Tickets available from Eventfinda
Junior Fa v Junior "Red Eye Pitbull" Pati (heavyweight, co-main event)
"Iron" Mose Auimatagi v Gunnar "The Stunna" Jackson (NZPBA middleweight title fight / co-main event)
Ricky "The Ghost" Murphy v Blake "Playa" Bell (super welterweight)
Nik "The Greek" Charalampous v Vimoli Kuresa (cruiserweight)
Josh Tai v Panuve "Wild Boy" Helu (Light heavyweight)