Hawke's Bay Sam Nicol didn't win any bouts in Australia at the weekend but he returned home last night much wiser for the experience.

Nicol lost on points to Xavier Mata'afa in the junior 46kg division in his opening bout at the National Open Golden Gloves in Brisbane on Friday.

"He went off the game plan, fighting him rather than trying to box," Hastings Giants Boxing Academy trainer Craig McDougall said from Brisbane on Saturday night.

McDougall said Mata'afa entered the ring with a New Zealand age-group title under his belt.


"Sam eventually returned to the game plan in round two but it was a little too late because
he had probably won the third round," he said of the 15-year-old from Taradale who was on an expedition of experience in his first foray abroad.

The Napier Boys' High School year 10 pupil then fought in another straight final, this time stepping outside his comfort zone into the heavier 48kg category against Sam Dawson, of Australia, on Saturday.

"Sam lost this one on unanimous points decision but he boxed very well. He hardly got hit but he just didn't do enough to get the judges on his side," said McDougall, who also was on a learning trip to boost his credentials as a trainer with an elite overseas amateur promotion.

He said Nicol learned lessons on how to manage stress, not knowing who his opponents were until shortly before entering the ring as well as adapting to changes at a meeting that hosted more than 300 bouts over three days.

"To give you an idea, at the New Zealand Champs, we stage 97 bouts over four days."

While there, McDougall lined up a bout for Nicol against Vegas Larfield in Hamilton on September 24 in the junior 44kg division.

The trainer was delighted to discover that his Hastings boxing academy was accorded the World Travellers at Best Travel - Not For Profit Award at the Hastings City Business Awards on Friday.