The world is an oyster for Northland’s two women’s world boxing champions after a pulsating night of boxing action at Whangārei’s Wahine Toa II event on Saturday night, with opponents from around the globe likely lining the pair up.
Kaitāia’s Mea Motu beat India’s Chandni Mehra to retain her IBO super-bantamweight world title in a unanimous decision after a brutal 10 rounds in which the champion gave the tough Mehra some vicious body shots.
Earlier, Whangārei’s Lani Daniels earned an impressive majority decision against Australian Desley “Lady D” Robinson for the vacant IBF light heavyweight world belt. And with the hard-fought win, Daniels added the title to her IBF heavyweight title - becoming the first Kiwi boxer ever to hold world championship belts in two weight classes at the same time.
Both were powerful displays that showed when it comes to top women boxers, Northland is leading the way, with Motu and Daniels now looking to the future, hoping to extend their records and build boxing legacies.
And the sold-out and raucous McKay Stadium - hosting the biggest fight night ever in the north - also made it clear the region is more than ready to host big international boxing events, with talks already under way to do it again.
For Motu, it’s about setting a legacy in the division, and she’s prepared to take on anybody from around the world who wants to try to take her belt, but she’s confident she can beat whoever is put in front of her.
Immediately after her bout, Motu told NZME she enjoyed the fight and Mehra was a tough opponent who took some good shots, particularly to the body.
Motu also opened up a cut under Mehra’s eye late in the fight, but the Indian’s ability to absorb Motu’s might was impressive.
“It was awesome,” Motu said. “It was a big win.”
When asked who she’d like to fight next, she mentioned England’s Ramla Ali, the fighter who overtook Motu for the number-one world IBO ranking.
“I want Ali, she’s got my ranking. I’d like them all in that division. Chandni was great - she came along and really brought it. She said she was going to give me a good fight, and she did.”
Motu admitted she was a bit surprised Mehra kept coming back from the vicious body shots she kept banging in, but thanked her opponent for putting on a good performance for the large and enthusiastic crowd.
Wahine Toa II was also a great display of Māori culture, as haka and waiata greeted Motu and Daniels as they walked into the ring - scenes beamed around the world to a global audience watching on.
“I’m proud to be Māori, and I’m proud to come from the Far Far North, where they build them differently.”
Motu defended her title with a big points decision against Mehra. Punishing body shots were the key and hurt Mehra, despite her shaking her head throughout as if they did not. Mehra used her speed and footwork to try to stay away from Motu, while throwing some strong punches herself, but the champion kept stalking her around the ring and throwing punches when it mattered.
Mehra also had a point deducted for holding late in the fight after a number of warnings from the referee, but the result was never in doubt. The judges scored the fight 100-89, 99-90 and 98-91.
Daniels knows she was in a tough fight with Robinson, a concrete worker and personal trainer from Brisbane who absorbed most of what she had and kept throwing plenty of punches of her own.
After 10 bruising rounds in which the Aussie gave almost as good as she got, two of the judges had Daniels ahead, with the other scoring the bout a 95-95 draw. That showed just how close the contest was, and given that, the Aussie may well seek a rematch.
Roseanna Cox, who earlier claimed a unanimous decision win over Kaikohe’s Trish Vaka, called out Daniels as a potential next opponent.
Daniels, though, would not commit, and earlier in the week she had indicated she might look to move down to super-middleweight and pursue a belt in that weight class as well, seeking to become a three-division world champ.
The noise levels in McKay stadium were at fever pitch as Daniels came into the ring, with a strong contingent from her beloved Pipiwai creating plenty of atmosphere and excitement, and cries of “go Lani” were heard throughout the bout.
Also on the bill on Saturday, Motu’s Peach Boxing stablemate Jerome “The Panther” Pampellone showed some real power to stop Mexican veteran Rogelio Medina (41-9 before this fight) towards the end of the first round.
Pampellone (17-0 before Saturday) was in the ring against a man who had fought six current or former world champions, and everybody was expecting a torrid and tough encounter.
But The Panther knocked Medina to the ground earlier in the round, before a flurry of heavy punches to the head saw the Mexican go down again and the ref stopped the fight.
The power of Pampellone will have made potential opponents around the world sit up and take notice.
In other results on the night:
- Zain Adams beat Patthaphi Camton by KO (2).
- Roseanna Cox beat Trish Vaka by unanimous decision.
- Matt Matich beat Kurt Benney by TKO (2).
- Kye Hiko beat Kenzo Patali.