Queenstown once again sports two national boxing champions.
At the nationals in Rotorua last week, Richie Hadlow won the light welterweight title for a staggering fourth year in a row after three hard-fought bouts, over three rounds.
And Callum Owen, who took the middleweight title in 2014, the same year Hadlow won his first title, took the welterweight crown.
Coach Stewart Mitchell describes his final bout as one of his proudest moments.
Now ranked 27th in the world following recent international successes, Hadlow needed to defend his New Zealand number one ranking to stay on track for Commonwealth Games selection.
Mitchell says the 29-year-old didn’t disappoint with three unanimous decisions in as many days.
In his quarter-final, Hadlow dropped Shiva Mishram, of Wellington, twice and put another two counts on him.
In his semi-final, he fought a much-improved Wiremu Herbert, of Canterbury.
“Richie’s heavy hands continued to do significant damage,” Mitchell says.
In the final he squared off against NZ number two Sam Burdett-Clark, of Christchurch.
Hadlow’s power punches took their toll, but as in his other fights, his opponent refused to lie down.
Hadlow’s likely to get another fight over the next two months before boxing for NZ against Australia, live on Sky Sport, on December 9.
Owen, meanwhile, who lost his semi-final at last year’s nationals, took two fights to win his title last week.
In his semi-final, the 28-year-old won a comfortable unanimous decision against Bryce Raynes, representing Manawatu, despite being dropped heavily in the first round after an accidental head clash.
In his final he faced the experienced and recently-immigrated Andor Laszlo, of Hungary, who’d knocked out his semi-final opponent.
Mitchell says Owen “landed some telling body punches at crucial points along with some big counter-rights to take out a wonderful unanimous decision against possibly an over-confident opponent who maybe thought NZ possessed limited talent”.
“Callum’s final was one of the proudest moments of my coaching career – any coach can understand what I mean when you work on a game plan and it’s applied perfectly.”
He adds that it’s no mean feat to win two national titles in two weights after only 28 fights, the first after only 16.
Mitchell gives credit to Fight Science Amateur Boxing Club sponsors Jonathan Gurney, Lee Exell and Neki Patel, of Queenstown Health, as well as sports scientist Ed Baranowksi, along with other boxers at Industrial Fitness who’ve sparred with and supported Hadlow and Owen.