The opponent of an amateur boxer who died during a charity fight has revealed the dead man's last words to him before they started exchanging blows.

Nick Trott was in the ring with Neville Knight when the 49-year-old collapsed in front of hundreds of spectators at the Hamilton event on Saturday night.

Speaking for the first time, Trott told NZ Herald Focus: "He said as we touched up 'let's get this over so we can have a beer together'."

Despite desperate efforts to administer CPR, including by Knight's fiancee Michelle Burke, he could not be revived.


Trott said the tragedy was still sinking in.

"There's been a lot of support for the whole gym, for Michelle, for myself. You've gotta remember the whole gym knew Nev a lot better than I did.

"They were all there ... they all saw what happened."

Nabby's Boxing Gym organised the bout and the pair trained together at the gym, as well as giving each other "a bit of friendly cheek", Trott said.

Knight had come out strong, as expected, Trott said.

"He's a big powerful guy and he hits really hard and he did. The first round he kept going and going ... just a machine, old Nev."

Michelle Burke and Neville Knight at work for lines company NorthPower. Photo / Supplied
Michelle Burke and Neville Knight at work for lines company NorthPower. Photo / Supplied

Trott realised something was wrong when Knight appeared to slip.

"I'd hit him and I thought 'that's odd'. It wasn't one of my best. I thought 'oh s***, something's happened', everyone's saying it's a seizure."

Knight's death will be investigated by the coroner and he had not heard any more about what might have caused his opponent's death.

But he defended the event the pair were involved in.

"[There's a] lot of people jumping to conclusions about charity boxing, corporate boxing.
We weren't newbies to the sport ... he knows how to take a punch, I know how to take a punch."

He was confident rules had been followed.

"It's a minefield to get in that ring. Just the paperwork you have to do, the medical checks you have to do."

By yesterday, he was back at Nabby's.

It's what Knight would have wanted, Trott said.

"It's important to get back into a routine ... we are like a big family down here, we all look after each other."

Meanwhile, a stunned Nabby's owner Dion McNabney told Focus rules needed to be tightened in some areas of boxing.

"Who's running the show needs to be licensed - coaching licence, maybe even a promoter's licence ... make sure they've got a first aid certificate and be ... a licensed registered coach.'

But he was adamant Nabby's had done everything "by the book".

"We do everything through Boxing NZ ... prior medical, medical on the day ... we had a doctor, headgear, big gloves. All the gear was new.

"Nabby's got nothing to hide. It's just a tragedy. Just a freak accident."

The night had been wonderful prior to Knight's collapse, McNabney said.

"All the fights went the distance prior to the tragedy of our man, Nev. He just collapsed in the second round, just went cardiac arrest."

Knight, whom he described as a "big, fit, strong man", was due to fly to Australia the following day to represent New Zealand in masters' rugby league, McNabney said.

"What do we do there, do we put an age cap on that as well?"