David Nyika says the cut on his cheek suffered in his stunning victory over Titi Motusaga today is only superficial and he wants to get in the ring as soon as possible – and preferably in New Zealand.
The Kiwi cruiserweight won with a spectacular second-round knockout against Motusaga at Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena despite a wide and deep cut on his right cheek – the result of a head clash earlier in the round.
“It's fine, it's quite superficial, but it's really wide so it looks really impressive but it is what it is, this is boxing, it's a blood sport,” Nyika told 1News afterwards.
While it required six or seven stiches, it didn’t affect him badly in the ring; Nyika, a double Commonwealth Games gold medallist, finishing the fight with a perfectly timed one-two combination which flatted fellow New Zealander Motusaga.
The pair had entered the ring with the same records as professionals: 4-0 (3 knockout wins), but it was Nyika who emerged victorious, and how.
And while the victory wasn’t a surprise – Nyika was always a big favourite given his amateur pedigree and physical advantages of a far superior height and reach – the manner of it was.
Fighting on the undercard of the Devin Haney v George Kambosos Jr, a world lightweight title fight, Nyika looked sharp and compact under the direction of new trainer, the Brisbane-based Noel Thornberry, and his timing was immaculate against an opponent who believed he had a real chance.
The event is being screened live and exclusive on TVNZ1.
“It's the kind of result I needed and the result I wanted for free-to-air television back home," Nyika said. "The fight itself was not quite what I expected - I expected a lot more pressure early on but that suited me perfectly.
“I was able to find my rhythm and I talked to my opponent afterward to just check he was all right.
“He actually mentioned I had hit him with a couple other shots that had hurt him a little bit as well earlier in the fight, so I think my training has been working well.
“The little things I have been working on are finally coming together so I'm really happy with the result and can't wait for the next one.”
Nyika, who didn’t defend his titles at the recent Commonwealth Games in Birmingham due to a hand injury, said he now wants to return to New Zealand.
He has recently been based in the United Kingdom training alongside heavyweights Tyson Fury and Joseph Parker and has been training with Thornberry in Queensland.
“I really want to fight again back home, I haven't fought in New Zealand for about two years I think which is ridiculous so I would really make a homecoming appearance.”
Nyika’s last fight on home soil was his professional debut on the undercard of the Parker v Junior Fa main event in February 2021, a predictably easy win for Nyika in a fight that lasted less than 30 seconds.
The news today wasn’t so good for Kiwi heavyweight Hemi Ahio, who suffered the first loss of his professional career against big underdog Faiga Opelu, of Australia.
Ahio, sluggish and taking punishment throughout, was stopped by Opelu in the fourth round, the referee stepping in with the Kiwi on the ropes and under a sustained attack.
Middleweight Marcus Heywood, another Kiwi, impressed in his unanimous points loss to undefeated American Lorenzo Simpson.
Meanwhile, New Zealand-born Cherneka Johnson, now based in Melbourne, successfully defended her IBF junior featherweight world title with a rugged points victory over 10 rounds against Australian Susie Ramadan.
Johnson, badly cut above the left eye early in the fight, won by decision against Ramadan, who was dropped to the canvas and had two points deducted by punching behind the head.