Tauranga amateur boxer Michael Crosa hopes to make his mark as an elite athlete in the sport when he fights at the Boxing New Zealand Elite trials this weekend.
It will the Tauranga Boxing Club fighter's first elite trials and will face Auckland's Tui Vea, who is the current Boxing New Zealand (BNZ) National Light Welterweight titleholder. The pair, who are both eyeing elite status in the Lightweight division, are the only entries for that division.
The 18-year-old is the only fighter from the Western Bay of Plenty up for elite status this weekend and Crosa says he is looking forward to the opportunity.
"It would be really good, it'll definitely be good for me," Crosa said.
The BNZ Elite trials take place at the Auckland Boxing Association headquarters. The trials take place at the start of the new boxing year to reset the rankings and re-establish the number one in each of the elite male and female weight divisions.
Crosa is up for the challenge ahead of him, facing a huge rise in class at the Elite trials in his first year in senior competition. He entered the 2018 BNZ National Youth Light Welterweight division with seven wins from just nine bouts.
Bay of Plenty Boxing Association head coach Chris Walker described Crosa as a natural in the sport, and is expecting the trial to go well because of his "ability and skills in the ring".
"He's a talented kid and has got a chance," Walker says.
"Michael has picked up the sport really well and is a good thinker in the ring under pressure.
"He's a natural ... he's fighting people theoretically he shouldn't be fighting.
"His goal this year is to be the best he possibly can in the sport, he's really committed."
Crosa says he got into boxing after reading a book about American former professional boxer Mike Tyson and feeling inspired by the peak of his fighting career. He says he has thought about going professional himself one day but says he's just taking his own career fight-by-fight at the moment.
He enjoys the independence and the discipline required with boxing and knowing his results depend on his own input, with a lot of support from his family, especially mum Robyn Crosa, coach and team.
A good performance, even without getting the judges nod at the Elite trials, could put Crosa in the frame for a trip to the Arafura Games in Darwin, Australia in April. New Zealand is likely to send North and South Island teams to the Arafura Games, which won't include current national titleholders, opening the door for boxers on the cusp of elite selection to impress the national selectors at the Auckland trials.
Boxing New Zealand Trial entries:
51kg: Katie Thompson (Auckland), Tasmyn Benny (South Auckland BA).
54kg: Roimata Ransfield (Shamrock).
57kg: Tegan Burdett-Clark (Canterbury), Amy Andrew (Manawatu).
60kg: Troy Garton (Shamrock).
64kg: Cara Wharerau (Hamilton).
75kg: Chei Kenneally (Auckland).
81kg: Stephanie Trotter (Hamilton).
52kg: Ryan Entese (Canterbury), Ivan Pavich (Waikato).
56kg: Rendz Remaneses (Canterbury).
60kg: Michael Crosa (Bay of Plenty), Tui Vea (Auckland).
64kg: Sam Burdett-Clark (Canterbury).
69kg: Wendell Stanley (Auckland), Dominic Roe (Auckland), Frank Hardy (Canterbury).
75kg: Jesse Mahony (Taranaki), Emile Richardson (Central North Island).
81kg: Sunny Teki-Clark (Canterbury), Jerome Pampellone (Auckland).
91kg: Sonatane Tautalanoa (Auckland), David Nyika (Auckland), Siaki Tu (Auckland).
91+kg: Miracle Ki (South Auckland) Henry Towers.