Whanganui's Mike Makatea-Leylander is ready for the biggest fight of his life as he represents New Zealand at the IFMA Senior World Championships in Bangkok over night tomorrow.
A local favourite and New Zealand title winner at the annual "Night of Assassins" fight cards at Springvale Stadium, 27-year-old Makatea-Leylander has been with the rest of the five-strong New Zealand team in Thailand for the last week, getting acclimatised to the heat and training at the famous Sasiprapa Gym.
Established in 1965, Sasiprapa Gym is one of the oldest fight gyms in Bangkok, with three generations of the namesake family having trained many Muay Thai champions and providing a base for a host of international fighters to travel and improve their skills.
Competing in the Senior Male Elite A grade, with a 81kg limit, Makatea-Leylander's first bout will be against Brazil's Diego Bruno Da Silva Farias.
Victory there will see him into the quarter-finals, which is followed by semifinals and then the gold medal bout on Saturday, local time.
Makatea-Leylander attended the opening ceremony on Sunday, NZ time, before his first opponent was announced.
"Really keen to scrap now," he said on Facebook.
"Hard work's all done. This morning consisted of 4km on treadmill, shadowboxing, drills and bag work."
In an IFMA video posted online at the weigh-ins, Makatea-Leylander looked unfazed about the occasion, which is at his first trip overseas.
"Long time coming, I reckon. Been in the sport for about 6-7 years," he said.
"Ready to throw down and put it all in to represent my people, my town, my country, my family, and my team — Assassins Muay Thai."
Fighters from nearly 100 nations and territories are taking part in the championships.