Heavyweight boxer Junior Fa capped off a Kiwi-Tongan takeover in the United States today when he easily knocked out Frenchman Newfel Ouatah to maintain his unbeaten professional record.
Hemi Ahio, a fellow New Zealander with strong Tongan links, began the entertainment in Columbus, Ohio, today when stopping American Ed Fountain in an all-action fight.
The 28-year-old heavyweight Ahio had far too much power and precision for his bigger opponent and extended his record to 13-0 with a seventh-round stoppage.
Known as The Heat, Ahio turned up the temperature after dominating throughout, and had Fountain nearly over the ropes with an onslaught which should have been stopped there and then.
Instead, the referee gave Fountain a count and allowed the fight to continue, with Ahio piling on at least another half dozen punches before the contest was stopped.
Watched by Kiwi UFC star Israel Adesanya, who trains with Ahio and Fa at Auckland's City Kickboxing gym, Fa quickly got into his work against Ouatah in the main event.
Ouatah, who entered the ring with a 16-2 professional record, was taller than Fa and possessed a longer reach but Fa began aggressively and made his decisive move when connecting with a solid right hand after a clinch which caught his opponent unawares.
It was the first of four times that Ouatah went to the canvas before the referee mercifully ended a very short and one-sided contest. Fa is now 17-0 as a professional.
The victory suggested Fa is back to his physical best after health issues last year and it also suggests he has re-discovered a mean streak that appeared to go missing about the same time.
Ranked No8 by the WBO, Fa has talked about wanting a world title challenge this year and while he will face tougher opponents, he did what was expected and in convincing fashion.
In an interview with the Herald afterwards, Fa said the punch off the clinch, a potentially devastating weapon, was something he had been working hard on.
"It's become second nature to me," Fa said. "I did the same in my last fight. It's something I've been working on for the last year and I'm finally starting to use it properly. It's working.
"I feel great about the performance – I think it's a pretty good statement."
Fa will return to New Zealand while his next fight is negotiated – it will probably be in the United States given his deal with American promoter Lou Di Bella. He will also spar with Deontay Wilder ahead of the WBC world champion's next title defence.