Dunedin to host its first pro boxing in decades

Ryan Henry.
Ryan Henry.
Professional boxing is returning to Dunedin following a lengthy absence.

The Dunedin Casino, Fight and Fitness Academy and Pound for Pound Promotions are teaming up to stage what is thought to be the first professional boxing bouts in Dunedin for at least 20 years.

The charity event will include two titles fights plus 13 corporate bouts, and gets under way on November 24.

Organiser Ryan Henry said the fight night was initially scheduled for a smaller venue, but has been moved to the Edgar Centre.

He is hoping to attract a crowd of 600-700. If the event is a success, he hopes to stage further professional bouts in the city.

''I had heard there was possibly a professional fight staged here in the early '90s,'' he said.

''I can't find any information on that - I've just heard there was. But it has definitely been two or three decades that I know of.''

The two scheduled professional bouts shape as tight contests.

The main event will seen Dunedin cruiserweight Kurt Winkelmann battle Hamilton's Nigel Elliot for the Inter-Island Pro Box belt.

''I expect a good tough fight from them and I guess it could go either way,'' Henry said.

Winkelmann has a background in amateur boxing, kickboxing and mixed martial arts.

He has had one professional boxing match - a unanimous decision loss to Ratu Dawai in Christchurch in May.

That was a four-round fight, but his bout against Elliot is scheduled for eight, so it is a big step up.

Elliot has had four fights for one win and three losses. He was knocked out by Jordan Tuigamala - the son of former All Blacks and Manu Samoa winger Va'aiga Tuigamala - in May last year.

His most recent fight was a unanimous decision loss to Joshua Francis in Auckland late last year.

The other professional fight pits Dunedin's Mike Pascoe against Josh Hatherley, from Christchurch.

They will be fighting for the the South Island Super Middle Weight Pro Box belt.

Pascoe has had two professional fights and lost both. Hatherley has more experience, with three wins from nine fights.

It is a six-round contest and Henry, who has been in the corner for both fighters previously, said ''even I couldn't pick that one''.

Former All Black Tom Willis is the biggest name among the corporate contenders.

The hooker played five tests for his country in 2002.

The event is supporting Harry's Heroes. It is a nonprofit organisation set up to raise $150,000 to get Harry Finch, who has cerebral palsy, to the United States for life-changing surgery to give him the best chance of walking independently.

''If we can raise a bit of money for him then I think that would be a good thing,'' Henry said.

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