Fighters are rarely given the opportunity to sign off with a storybook ending.

Whether it's because they fight on too long or the dangerous nature of the sport strikes, few athletes get the chance to finish the way they always imagined they would.

Porirua kickboxer Sone Vannathy has pulled on his gloves for more than 70 bouts in a 20-year career and the 34-year-old could sign off in perfect fashion tomorrow night in what will likely be his final showing in his hometown.

The two-time defending champion headlines the strong eight-man field that will contest the King in the Ring 62kg event at the Te Rauparaha Arena in Porirua. Fighters are drawn in quarter-final bouts and a winner will emerge on the night.

Advertisement

During a week where thousands of locals farewelled one of Porirua's favourite sons in Jerry Collins, Vannathy (53-17-1) said he would thrive under the pressure of fighting at home.

"It's a huge thing. It's sad with the loss of Jerry but also then we can celebrate this here with everybody else as well with the fight night," Vannathy said.

"Every fight, I've been fighting like it's my last anyway so you know you're going to give it everything you've got."

The veteran, who also coaches young fighters and works as a self-employed gib stopper during the day, has a bout lined up in Melbourne later in the year, while he is also mulling offers in Asia. But he knows his days in the fight game - as a competitor - are numbered.

"Life is just getting too busy," the father of three said. "The body's getting older, the recovery's a lot slower."

This week's tournament promises to be a challenging one with a deep field that also includes Wellington fighters Ra Redden (23-6) and Alexi Serepisos (16-8).

South Auckland's Joey Baylon (22-12-3), Hawke's Bay's Pumipi Ngaronoa (30-10), Chris Wells (19-13), Dunedin's Nic Aratema (7-6) and Auckland's Kayne Conlan (15-5-1) round out the field.

"Three in a row would be great," Vannathy said. "I'm in for a tough night at the office.
"I'm always a target when you're the champion. Everybody always wants the king's crown."

Advertisement

Ngaronoa is the WMC New Zealand super lightweight champion, a belt he took from Vannathy over five rounds in New Plymouth last year.

"Winning the King in the Ring means more than the money that's usually up for grabs," Ngaronoa said. "It's knowing that you beat the best in New Zealand on the circuit in one night."

It will be a busy fight night with a handful of other bouts on the undercard, including combat sports code-hopper Gentiane Lupi (14-2) meeting Natalia Teller (10-11-2), while top Kiwi cruiserweight Zane Hopman (18-3) will battle Pati Afoa (28-14-1).