This week’s National Boxing Championship will farewell a couple of the sports most sucesful athletes.

David Nyika and Jerome Pampellone will pursue professional careers.

They’re amoung 139 boxers who will lineup for the championships in Porirua, which is the re-scheduled 2020 tournament.

There has been an increase of registered boxers in New Zealand (672), but the tournament has drawn 20-30 less than they normally get.

Boxing New Zealand chairman Keith Walker says they’re still pleased with the numbers they have managed to attract.

“Historically this is out of season for our sport, because of the pandemic we decided to have a delayed championship.”

The tournament is ussually held in October, but officials decided to hold the Golden Gloves event then instead.

The drop-off in numbers has hit one division in particular with heavyweight David Nyika having no competition for the title.

The two-time Comonwealth Games champion and Olympic bound fighter will still need to make the weigh-in this week to claim the title.

Walker says the heavyweight division has been light on numbers for a number of years.

“It must be disappointing for David and it’s certainly disappointing for us that he can’t have one more bout in New Zealand before his Olympic debut in Tokyo, but it stands to reason that there isn’t that depth in the heavyweight division at this time.”

Nyika is set to turn professional and could do it this week as the Nationals were to be his last amateur event before Tokyo.

Due to a change to eligibility rules ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympics, professional boxers are able to compete in amateur events including the Games.

In fact professionals are now able to compete in the New Zealand Championships, but there are some guidelines and restrictions on their participation.

Walker believes a couple more New Zealand boxers can qualify for the Olympics if they make it to the final qualifying tournament scheduled for Paris in June.

_RNZ

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