Tauranga's Anthony "TNT" Taylor claimed the vacant World Boxing Union Super Lightweight title with a TKO victory over Australian-based Darren Askew at Memorial Hall on Saturday night.
The fight was stopped in the 12th and final round after Taylor managed a late flurry of punches to take an unlikely win.
Up to that point he looked well beaten, suffering from a broken rib and behind on the judges' scorecards.
Taylor was knocked down five times in the fight but the battler never gave up. The 27-year-old looked completely out of the contest at the start of the 12th round, after taking two standing eight counts in the previous round.
The concern in his corner from trainer Chris Walker, Gunnar Jackson and Craig Thomson reached crisis point as Askew unleashed a flurry of blows on the almost defenceless Taylor. Two more standing eight counts gave him a chance to get his bearings but Walker had seen enough and threw in the towel to protect his fighter from serious injury.
But highly experienced referee Denny Enright kicked the towel back to Walker and declared Taylor fit to fight on.
And then a sporting miracle happened.
With pain etched across his face, the diminutive Taylor launched one final attack on Askew as the 30-year-old southpaw came in to finish him off. A right hook knocked Askew's head back, then two more ferocious blows, leaving Askew on the ropes unable to defend himself as Taylor somehow found the strength to finish it.
I knew Anthony had a broken rib and I thought 'crikey if he gets caught there again, she's all over', so I threw the towel in, but it is up to the referee to decide if he takes it. But he kicked it out, so good.
SHARE THIS QUOTE:
Enright stopped the fight, much to the disgust of Askew's corner team, as the full house at Memorial Hall erupted to cheer their local hero's unforgettable win. It was Taylor's 12th in 14 professional bouts.
In the dressing room, Taylor and his team struggled to take in what had just happened. "Anthony somehow had something left to be able to throw those punches," Walker said. "Earlier his timing was a little bit out and he couldn't measure the guy properly and get his range. He was a southpaw and taller and did some little things that were quite tricky.
"I knew Anthony had a broken rib and I thought 'crikey if he gets caught there again, she's all over', so I threw the towel in, but it is up to the referee to decide if he takes it. But he kicked it out, so good."
Taylor looked down in disbelief at the impressive belt he was wearing as the significance of his win began to sink in. "My ribs are starting to hurt now. It is by far the biggest fight of my career,' he said.
"I didn't think I could have fought a better fighter. It was difficult but I just needed to be more aggressive and come forward and let my hands go. Chris said to put the pressure on him in the sixth round. Hey, we got it done."
Taylor's bout was preceded by 13 corporate fights in the Clash of the Corporates 3 boxing night organised by TgaBox Health and Fitness. All went the distance of three two-minute rounds.
Clash of the Corporates 3
Bout 1: Middleweight Tyler King beat Jamie Fox
Bout 2: Bantamweight Stacey Relph beat Taran Kaur
Bout 3: Cruiserweight Luke Wielders beat Josh Barnett
Bout 4: Cruiserweight Campbell Cairns beat Shane Boreham
Bout 5: Super Middleweight Danika Stobie beat Gemma Shaw
Bout 6: Lightweight Mark Summat beat Kellyn Chapman
Bout 7: Heavyweight Marshall Meihana beat Levi Rahui
Bout 8: Welterweight Jo Hall beat Adel Besselaar
Bout 9: Super Middleweight Kylie Avery beat Angela Millar
Bout 10: Super Middleweight Tim Howell beat Vincent Dustin
Bout 11: Heavyweight Nate Birch beat Tamati Matiu
Bout 12: Middleweight Casey Baker beat Sacha Dustin
Bout 13: Cruiserweight Hamish Lacey beat Luke Wielders