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Sparring with the champion


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Masterton boxer Zane Hopman got in a dream sparring session with double Commonwealth Games gold medallist David Nyika on a visit to Hamilton last weekend.

Hopman was in the city with his young Muay Thai fighter Boston Moylan for the Night of Champions tournament, and arranged to step into the ring with Nyika – the light heavyweight champion from Glasgow in 2014 and the heavyweight champion in the Gold Coast in 2018.

“It had been mentioned a couple of months ago by my manager Craig Thomson that David was looking for some decent sparring partners – people with height and enough boxing skills to give him competitive rounds,” Hopman said.

Zane Hopman [left] with David Nyika after their sparring session.
“It was a bloody good experience, and pretty humbling being in the ring with a guy that’s so physically dominant in the 91kg amateur division.

“He would easily be top three or top four in the world and there’s good reason behind that, he’s a genetically gifted guy.”

Hopman said he had five rounds with Nyika and further rounds with two other handy boxers and that it was highly valuable.

“It was bloody tough having done an almost six-hour drive and then half-an-hour later pulling myself together to do some sparring with one of the best boxers in the world.”

The sparring session was vital in Hopman’s build-up for his bout with Ratu Dawai for the vacant Pro-Box New Zealand light heavyweight belt at Copthorne Hotel and Resort Solway Park on October 30.

A planned fight with Harman Singh in Whanganui on September 12 has been canned because of the uncertainty around covid-19 restrictions.

That came after the cancellation of a bout against Tyrone Warren in Auckland scheduled for last month, meaning that Hopman will go into the title fight without a warm-up fight.

After the sparring, Hopman turned trainer as he watched 14-year-old Moylan score his second win from two bouts, with a unanimous points decision victory over Cooper Ladd in the 45kg class.

“It was a clinical win.

“He pulled out all the skills from training and it was quite a good moment in a coaching role. I was really happy with his performance.”

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