Ritani’s no stepping stone

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A Queenstowner taking on rising Kiwi heavyweight Joseph Parker is confident of an upset – and so is his ex-coach. 

Las Vegas-based fighter Brice Ritani, who lived in Queenstown till heading overseas to pursue boxing and Mixed Martial Arts five years ago, says he’s no stepping stone. 

Ritani, 27, takes on highly-rated Parker in California this weekend in what’s been billed as Parker’s warm-up for an Auckland bout against veteran heavyweight Francois Botha next month. 

However, Ritani, speaking from Vegas where he works security at renowned nightclub Marquee and trains with some of the best fighters in the world, says: “I feel confident I can win – he’s a good fighter, he’s talented, he’s  quick. But I feel I have a toolkit of tricks I can use to beat him.” 

Ritani’s formerly Queenstown-based trainer Daz Giddens – who used to run Queenstown Boxing Gym – says Ritani shouldn’t be taken lightly. 

“They’re making out Brice is just a warm-up, a stepping stone. Parker’s class and fast but Brice can take a shot and he can throw a shot. He’s got a hell of a right hand. 

“It only takes one shot to win. Brice has definitely got his work cut out but it’d be a bad move to under-estimate Brice,” Giddens says, adding his former protege has a very strong chin. 

“You’ll never knock Brice over. I hope he goes well – it could open big doors for him.” 

Giddens says Ritani stopped most of the guys he fought when based in Queenstown – and promptly ran out of people who’d take him on. 

Since moving to Las Vegas – the fight capital of the world – Ritani regularly trains with big names like six-time Muay Thai world champion Ray Sefo. Ritani’s even sparred with top heavyweight Hasim Rahman, world champ in 2001 after knocking out Lennox Lewis. 

Ritani, whose boxing record is three wins, a loss and a draw, says he’s more interested in pursuing MMA and thanks former trainers in Queenstown – kickboxing coach Wayne Vega, Mark Barnes and Giddens – for getting him started.