By Peter Jessup

New Zealand heavyweight boxer Garth da Silva battered his way to what he regards as his biggest win of his career yesterday with a points decision that won him the Liverpool Cup from last year's Commonwealth Games gold medallist.

Da Silva came inside the height and reach advantage of Canadian Mark Simmons to take him toe to toe in a slugfest the Kiwi fighter won 12-9.

"It was my best performance to date - a good, hard fight. I'm pretty sore right now but you expect that after going through a tournament," the Auckland-based da Silva said.

He had suffered what he regarded as shame in going out in the Kuala Lumpur quarter-finals then watching Simmons win the gold medal he believed he had had a mortgage on.

"That was probably my worst defeat because I put too much pressure on myself to win it," he said.

He had been ahead up to the last round but tried to finish off his pponent and in doing so walked into too many points-scorers.

"It was good to get him [Simmons] because I always thought I could beat him," da Silva said.

He had two bronze medals from the two previous Liverpool events, and to move up to gold had to go past American Devaryl Williams, who beat him last year.

He put the improvement down to time spent at a pro-camp in Denver, Colorado. His employers, the New Zealand Army, have allowed plenty of leeway as he continues to build towards the world championships in Houston in August and next year's Sydney Olympics.

"I still do some public relations work but they've been really good about the time away - as long as I keep winning it's OK."

Da Silva began slowly against Simmons, measuring the bigger man's ability. By round two he had decided to go under Simmons' fend and it paid off as he landed heavy body shots.

By round three Simmons was hurting and da Silva took him on toe to toe. And in the end the win was fairly decisive.