Hadlow set for Games selection

Queenstown's Richie Hadlow is odds-on to be named in New Zealand's Commonwealth Games boxing team today.

Queenstown’s Richie Hadlow training at the Industrial Fitness Gym & Fight Club this week. Photo: Philip Chandler
Queenstown’s Richie Hadlow training at the Industrial Fitness Gym & Fight Club this week. Photo: Philip Chandler

The 30-year-old four-time New Zealand light welterweight champion set his sights on the Games on the Gold Coast in April after missing selection for the Olympics two years ago.

The former Aucklander said he first dreamed of going to the Games 20 years ago when he was a talented gymnast.

In 2002, he made the wider national squad for the Manchester Games in England, but was not picked.

''I fell out of love with that sport, so to come back and get into boxing and be where I am right now is really cool.''

Unusually, if selected he will be one New Zealand athlete who has already tasted gold on the Gold Coast - that is where he won the Oceania Boxing Federation's light welterweight title last June.

Hadlow lost his last bout in Texas last month against a top United States junior, but that came after a flight the night before and two days' competitive sparring against world-class opponents.

''Given my best day, I would have beaten that guy.''

If selected today, Hadlow goes to Canberra for a final 10-day training camp next month with boxers from six countries before competing in the Games.

Fifth-ranked in the Commonwealth and 27th-ranked in the world, Hadlow said he would be ''going for the medals'' if he made it to the Gold Coast.

''I think there's going to be a division of 32, so it's going to take five fights to win.''

Boxing at this level depended a lot on the draw, ''but in my mind I've got one fight, and that's the first fight, and I take it from there''.

Coach Stewart Mitchell said Hadlow had never been fitter.

''He's really improved his work-rate. He can maintain aggression the full fight, but he doesn't over-commit any more.''

Mitchell said his local supporters had ploughed tens of thousands of dollars into his campaign.

Hadlow, who has now had about 45 fights, said: ''I've done the work, but at the same time you need the financial backing''.

-By Philip Chandler

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