New Zealand picked up gold and silver medals in the boxing finals this evening.
Rising light-heavyweight David Nyika beat Kennedy St Pierre of Mauritius in a unanimous decision to claim the gold. In the next fight Aucklander David Light had to settle for silver after losing a split decision to Canadian Samir El-Mais.
Nyika, 18, had four good wins on his way to the final and impressed critics with his style and composure.
The rangy, 1.91m Nyika was a late addition the New Zealand team after some good performances in Europe this year. He certainly repaid the selectors’ faith.
The Hamilton man looked composed throughout against St Pierre, though he tired a little in the closing stages.
St Pierre was keen to force the pace, but Nyika was able to use his reach to good effect to generally stay out of trouble and build up points.
The boxing finals were held at the Hydro Arena where, with nearly 10,000 vociferous spectators, there was an electric atmosphere.
In the men’s heavyweight final, Light faced a very capable Canadian in El-Mais.
The Canadian won the first round comfortably, but the pugnacious Light fought back in the second, throwing in some good body shots and forcing the pace.
The final round was very close. One judge gave it to the New Zealander, but it was not quite enough and El-Mais took a really close decision. One judge gave the fight to him 30-27, and another 29-28. The third gave it to Light 29-28.
Light really impressed throughout the games with his gutsy attitude.
He had to really battle to make the final, winning a nip-and-tuck semi-final against Scot Stephen Lavelle.
Before today, the last New Zealand boxer to win a Commonwealth Games gold medal was superheavyweight Michael Kenny at Auckland in 1990.