Richie ready to rumble

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Queenstown boxer Richie Hadlow couldn’t be in better condition heading into the Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast, his coach says.

Hadlow, 30, is part of an eight-person New Zealand team. His first bout is tonight, about 9pm.

The four-time NZ light welterweight champion returned last week from an international camp in Canberra, Australia, where he sparred against other Commonwealth contenders including a Northern Irishman who gave him a black eye.

That followed a camp in the United States in January where he sparred against top US and British boxers.

“He’s fought and sparred against the best in the world, so he knows what he’s stepping into the ring against,” coach Stewart Mitchell says.

“He’s never been fitter, sharper and more experienced than he is today, so if we were ever to have a chance of medalling, now is the time.

“But the reality of it also is you’re looking at five fights in nine days so you’re hoping for a good draw, no injuries, and you do need a bit of luck.”

Hadlow’s ranked fourth in the Commonwealth but there are no seedings at the Games so he could be drawn to fight the top-ranked boxer, for example, early up.

Mitchell says his fighter’s also in a good mental space: “He’s working on just embracing the whole thing and remaining focused.

“He’s had good chats with people who have been before so he’s mentally prepared.”

It’s likely these Games will mark the end of his amateur career as he’s considering turning pro, but Hadlow – who’s had 43 fights for 31 wins – says that won’t weigh on his mind. He’s just aiming to keep it simple, he says.

“I know there’s a crowd and an event, but at the end of the day it’s another man standing in front of me, and that’s all I’ve really got to worry about.

“I’m going to fight my heart out and just put everything I’ve been working on for the past five years into nine minutes.”

Hadlow also thanks Queenstowners who’ve wished him well: “Everyone’s been supportive.”

Meanwhile, media-shy transgender Queenstown weightlifter Laurel Hubbard is also competing on the GC.

scoop@scene.co.nz