Un­der­dog O’Brien ready to spoil Fi­jian’s record

If ev­ery­thing goes to plan, boxer will need to dodge the lo­cals when he hol­i­days in Fiji

Hawke's Bay Today - - LOCAL NEWS - Shane Hurn­dell

Hawke’s Bay boxing pro­fes­sional Beau O’Brien is plan­ning a holiday in Fiji later this month and there’s a chance he may have to change his name and stay at a dif­fer­ent ho­tel.

“If ev­ery­thing goes to plan in the ring, every­one in Fiji will be after me,” O’Brien quipped.

The Rod Lang­don-trained O’Brien, 26, will take on un­beaten Fi­jian Silevini Nawai for the WBF Asia/ Pa­cific mid­dleweight belt on June 23. The fight is sched­uled for 10 rounds.

“They love him in Fiji. The whole coun­try is be­hind him be­cause he is seen as their next big thing. It will be tough fight­ing at his weight and in his back­yard.

“He has got ev­ery­thing to lose and I’ve got ev­ery­thing to gain. It will be good to be the un­der­dog for a change,” O’Brien said.

The win­ner of the bout will earn a rank­ing among the top 200 mid­dleweights in the world.

O’Brien has had five wins, a draw and a loss as a pro­fes­sional while Nawai has had 11 wins, eight of them by knockout.

A former light-mid­dleweight, O’Brien is rel­ish­ing the move up to mid­dleweight.

“I’ll get to eat break­fast be­fore I weigh in from now on and I’ll be happy about that. Dur­ing my light­mid­dleweight days I of­ten had to sur­vive on cashew nuts, chew­ing gum, veges and fruit,” O’Brien re­called.

The former holder of the New Zealand Pro­fes­sional Boxing As­so­ci­a­tion’s (NZPBA) light-mid­dleweight ti­tle, O’Brien is also en­joy­ing life as a full­time pro­fes­sional, a life­style change he made in December last year after end­ing a four-year re­tire­ment.

“I’m the fittest I’ve ever been be­cause I’m train­ing ev­ery day, of­ten two or three times each day and push­ing the body ex­tra hard. It’s un­real.”

As part of his prepa­ra­tion for his Fiji as­sign­ment, O’Brien has done more than 100 rounds of spar­ring with the likes of fel­low Bay pro­fes­sional Tipene Ma­niapoto and New Zealand su­per mid­dleweight cham­pion Jonathan Tay­lor of Tau­ranga.

“A lot of fight­ers take on bun­nies and jour­ney­men. I want to take on hard fight­ers like Silevini, who has heavy hands,” O’Brien said.

The Ocean Spa, Mod­ern Yoga and Na­jala Mas­sage-spon­sored O’Brien last fought in March when he scored a split de­ci­sion vic­tory against Welling­to­nian Shiva Mishra. He was hop­ing to take on Tau­ranga-based pro­fes­sional Gun­nar Jackson last month but the fight didn’t even­tu­ate.

An­other of Lang­don’s pro­fes­sion­als, Toa Leutele, 24, will head to Aus­tralia for an eight-man heavy­weight com­pe­ti­tion in Melbourne on July 6. To win the event, Leutele will have to win three fights which are sched­uled for three rounds.

“I’m quite ex­cited as this will be my first fight since March. I’m ready to fight now so the ex­tra three weeks is a bonus,” Leutele said.

“I’ve been train­ing ev­ery day since the start of the year and, at the week­end, I went to Auck­land for 10 rounds of spar­ring at Shane Cameron’s gym.

“Ob­vi­ously, if you lose in Melbourne you’re fin­ished for the night. If I win three fights there it will open more doors up for me at in­ter­na­tional level. I want to be the New Zealand heavy­weight cham­pion by the end of the year and if any­one wants to help with spon­sor­ship I would love to hear from them,” Leutele said.

The 2011 na­tional youth su­per­heavy­weight cham­pion, who pounds the streets as a refuse col­lec­tor dur­ing the day, scored a third-round TKO against Canterbury heavy­weight Ali Loto in March.

That was his sec­ond pro­fes­sional fight. Loto was 10kg heav­ier than Leutele and had won three of his pre­vi­ous four pro fights.

Aussie-based former Manawatu fighter Kyle Brumby will also be on the card in Melbourne.

Lang­don had planned on tak­ing Leutele to Aussie ear­lier this year but Leutele’s pass­port didn’t ar­rive in time.

Photo / Dun­can Brown

Beau O’Brien (left) and Toa Leutele are ready to boost their rep­u­ta­tions on boxing’s in­ter­na­tional stage.

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