Gold Coast (Australia) (AFP) – Hard-hitting David Nyika pummelled his opponent on Saturday to win a second Commonwealth Games boxing gold and then warned that he wants to replicate fellow New Zealand heavyweight Joseph Parker.
The 22-year-old Nyika’s emphatic display against Jason Whateley on Australia’s Gold Coast comes with Parker excelling in the pro ranks, putting New Zealand on the boxing map.
Parker impressed despite being beaten on points in a recent unification world title bout against Britain’s Anthony Joshua, suffering his first defeat but emerging with plenty of plaudits.
Nyika’s title didn’t come easy: he resorted to training in carparks after splitting with his coach last year, and he was even bitten by Antigua’s Yakita Aska in the opening round.
But he has now made a slice of New Zealand history, having now won gold in two different weight classes following his light-heavyweight title at the 2014 Commonwealths in Glasgow.
“Joseph has done amazing things for boxing in New Zealand and I’d like to follow down his path one day,” Nyika said.
“I’m not sure how near in the future that will be, but boxing’s in good hands and we are looking onwards and upwards,” added Nyika, sporting dyed blond hair that has earned him the nickname “pint of Guinness”.
Nyika, who also has a British passport and trained in England before the Games, dominated Australia’s Whateley in a one-sided bout, silencing the home crowd.
Following in Parker’s giant footsteps would mean giving up Olympics and Commonwealths to turn professional, but Nyika would not be drawn on his next move, even if it looks inevitable that one day he will go pro.
With his talent, good looks and articulate speech, there will be no end of offers.
“The next few weeks I’m going to have to put my feet up, I’ve been exhausted in the last year, I’ve had some hurdles that I’ve overcome, I’m glad to say, but it’s really taken it out of me,” said Nyika.
Those “hurdles” included “relationships in and out of boxing”, said Nyika, who triumphed in four fights on the way to gold, including his his torrid opener against Aska.
Last year he split with Rick Ellis, his coach for seven years, and Nyika said that “politics within the sport” had also been an obstacle.
He took to training alone in deserted car parks after the break-up with Ellis, with his older brother Josh — also a boxer — pitching in.
“I’ve proved to myself that I can direct myself, I go where I need to go, be who I need to be to get to where I need to go,” Nyika said defiantly.