Olympic bronze medallist and two-time Commonwealth Games champion David Nyika will leave New Zealand this weekend to prepare for his second professional fight on the Joseph Parker-Dereck Chisora undercard next month.
As the constrained domestic landscape clouds preparations for next year's Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, Nyika has seized the chance to further his development and showcase his talent at the Manchester Arena event headlined by the Parker-Chisora rematch on December 18.
Nyika leaves for Morecambe, a small town in Lancaster, on Saturday to join Parker's eight-week training camp. The pair will stay at one of WBC champion Tyson Fury's houses and train at his gym under the guidance of Irishman Andy Lee, the former middleweight world champion, now tutoring Parker.
A cruiserweight opponent is yet to be locked in for Nyika's undercard fight but the 26-year-old is grateful to Duco promoter David Higgins and Matchroom boss Eddie Hearn for providing the opportunity on a no strings basis while he continues to plot his future in the pro ranks.
Fighting on such a stage will cap a special year in which Nyika shared the flagbearer duties with Black Ferns sevens captain Sarah Hirini in Tokyo before becoming New Zealand's first Olympic boxing medallist for 29 years.
"I don't even know what I'm getting myself into but I'm really looking forward to fighting in front of big crowds again. To be part of Joe's camp is going to be a massive deal," Nyika told the Herald.
"Getting abroad and starting to develop outside my comfort zone is going to bring so much more to my boxing game.
"Boxing New Zealand has allowed me to have five pro fights as an amateur. I'm still working towards the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
"I'm excited to see what could lie in store on the professional scene. It's going to be a big boost to my motivation. Being stuck in a small Island on the other side of the world is difficult when your dream is to fight in front of big crowds."
Prior to the Olympics, Nyika's pro debut on the Parker-Junior Fa undercard in February finished in bizarre fashion when he delivered a 28-second TKO after catching Jesse Maio with a right hand behind the ear.
Fighting on a Matchroom card, in his second pro fight, now affords Nyika the platform to pitch his talent to the world's premier boxing promotional companies, some of whom have already made inquiries.
"Being over there and taking all the available opportunities is going to do so much for my career. Anyone who knows anything about boxing knows we're pretty limited here in New Zealand.
"Joe has taken to Vegas and now the UK to bring the best out in himself. I feel blessed to join him."
Nyika, like many New Zealand athletes chasing their sporting dreams abroad, faces the uncertainty of not knowing when he can return home due to the much-maligned MIQ online lottery system.
Missing out on watching his nephews grow up among other challenges are, however, sacrifices he's willing to make.
"I've got my fingers crossed the borders open soon and I will be able to come home in the New Year. It will come down to what the government decides. We're all hoping the vaccination rates go up and we can get back to some sort of normality over the next few months. We all deserve it after what we've been through.
"I can't tell you when I'll next be home but I hope it's not too long.
"This has always been the plan in terms of developing my career. I don't feel I've developed much as a boxer over the last few years. I've been blessed to work with some great people but the quality of coaching, sparring, training will be so much higher in the UK so this is a massive step in the right direction for me."
Rubbing shoulders with Fury, following his stunning 11th round knockout triumph in the trilogy fight with Deontay Wilder in Vegas last Sunday, is exactly the environment Nyika needs.
"It will be really good for my morale. Being excited about boxing is so important. Seeing what Tyson Fury and Joe have accomplished I feel like I'm heading towards where I want to be in terms of surrounding myself with the right people and gaining experience from those who have gone and done it before."
While the future is uncertain, Nyika has established connections with the Great Britain amateur boxing team in Sheffield and plans to chase more pro fights before the Birmingham Games begin on July 28.
"I need to be competing, to stay active, and I haven't been able to do that in New Zealand. I will be looking at getting more pro fights. Where those fights are I'm not sure, but I'm definitely keen to max out those five fights before Com Games."
Higgins charted Parker's path to the WBO heavyweight crown and is now attempting to navigate him into a position to challenge for another world title. With Nyika joining Parker's camp for the second time this year – after training together in the lead up to the Fa fight – their partnership appears unlikely to end there.
"David's debut fight was a mismatch but because of Covid there was no one else good enough in New Zealand to fight him," Higgins said. "This is a great opportunity for David to get a taste of pro boxing at the highest level.
"With his performance at the Olympics in winning bronze and with two Commonwealth Games gold medals there's a lot of promoters and TV networks interested in him. They won't rush into anything, but shining on the Manchester stage will only enhance his longer-term options.
"Everyone is very grateful to Matchroom for providing the opportunity."