New life for pro boxing
“Lower Hutt and Wellington have had a lot of good fighters, but pro boxing has died out over the years. Hopefully I can spark it up again,” says the 26 year-old Lower Hutt middleweight.
A fighter for 14 years with five national titles, he was one of Boxing New Zealand’s two Olympic hopefuls, but failed to qualify earlier this year. Undaunted, he’s turning pro, which has slightly different rules, longer matches, less protection for fighters, and a purse to the winner.
“It’s a longer fight which is good for me because I’m fit as and I can go forever,” says Blackbourn. “With the pros you can take your time a bit more. It’s definitely going to work in my favour. I’m keen to take on any comers.”
Trent Stevenson, who’s had a few amateur fights and follows the sport says, “The pro scene has been pretty dead in Wellington since the late ‘80s. Joe’s probably the first highlight in awhile.”
Beside Blackbourn and Pereira, Friday night will feature two other professional match-ups – light heavyweights John Roil and Richard Hackney and middleweights James O’Connor, also a Wellingtonian, against Beau O’Brien, another debut pro fighter from Napier. Ten amateur bouts will round out the card.
Overall, it should be a dynamic night with an anticipated crowd of 1,000 – twice the usual draw for a Wellington fight. Middleweights will be fun for the spectators, says Stevenson. “Joe is a super-middleweight, a lighter fighter, a bit faster and a bit more exciting to watch. They’re busier than heavyweights. It’s exciting because there’s a heavy punch factor and more knockouts.”
Friday Night Fights, Lower Hutt Town Hall, 6:30pm, August 10.