Five members of the Tauranga Boxing Club will compete at the 2018 North Island Golden Gloves during Queens Birthday weekend at the Great Lakes Centre in Taupo.
A record 120-plus bouts will be held at the 34th annual North Island boxing championships. Leading the Tauranga Boxing Club title charge is New Zealand junior female 54kg champion Hannah Walker, along with Brady Lesa, Michael Crosa, Kristian Millard and Ari Adlington.
Millard is a newcomer to the ring, but the other four Tauranga members all performed with distinction at the 2017 national championships in Rotorua.
Walker faced a formidable challenge to win her first national crown when she squared off with Leoni Rosin on junior finals day. Her South Auckland opponent had international experience on her sporting resume, having competed at the world junior kickboxing championships. The bout went down to the wire, with Walker taking out a hard-fought 3-2 split decision.
On the opening day of the nationals Crosa, who had just four fights in his record book entering the Rotorua ring, squared off with 48 fight veteran Junior Acero in the preliminary rounds of the junior male 60kg division. Crosa was unlucky to be on the wrong end of a split decision, with his Canterbury opponent grabbing victory by way of a 3-2 points win.
The split decision loss to a quality opponent highlighted his potential.
Arlington, another Tauranga boxer to attend her first national championships, impressed in her two bouts before bowing out in the semifinals. She made a superb start, stopping Ruby Tufuga with a body shot in her first fight.
In her second bout she faced five-time national titleholder Deanne Carpenter in an action-packed bout, with Arlington narrowly losing in a split decision.
Senior middleweight Lesa also emerged with a huge amount of credit from the Boxing New Zealand showcase. After beating Curtis Dodunski by a majority decision in his preliminary bout, Lesa put up a brave performance in the semifinals before being defeated by middleweight silver medallist Francis Waitai.
Tauranga Boxing Club team, 2018 North Island Golden Gloves
Brady Lesa - senior open middleweight
Kristian Millard - senior novice welterweight
Ari Adlington - senior women middleweight
Michael Crosa - youth open lightweight
Hannah Walker - junior women lightweight