It could have been a decisive match to determine the winner of the Welterweight Title but eight rounds of bouts later, neither of the contenders could take home the honour.
There was excitement at the Panmure Lagoon Auditorium in the Auckland suburb of Panmure on August 21 as Steve Heremaia and Hari Venka took on each other but as I observed, “both were too good to contain each other.”
Steven has been christened ‘Mini Mike Tyson’ for his ferocity in the ring and despite his lukewarm performance, he is undoubtedly one of the most exciting boxers that New Zealand has produced since David Tua and Shane Cameron.
According to some experts, with a successful professional record and a long amateur career behind him, “Steve is potentially New Zealand’s best world title prospect, pound for pound the country’s best fighter.”
Views may differ but he appears to be a favourite in some circles.
A few days before he met Hari, the boxer had vowed that he would not be defeated.
Steve lost a match against Hari earlier in the year but contested the decision.
“This time, I will not leave any doubt in the judges’ mind about the winner,” he said.
He had a promising start, landing a few good punches but in the middle of the fight, Hari took over the command.
The judges’ score somewhat reinstated that comment.
Steve Miles awarded 68 points to Hari and one less (67) to Steve; while Reg Williams and I awarded 67 to each boxer, making the match a ‘Majority Draw.’
Born ‘Venkatesan Hari Krishnan’, Hari is a five-time Indian National Boxing Champion, before he arrived in Auckland four years ago for a fight against Kiwi Peter Dransfield.
The 28-year-old boxer has spent almost half of his life in boxing rings.
Hailing from a sports-orientated family, the young man saw his crowned Mr India in body building in 1972. His older brother Devarayan was a professional boxer in England for many years.
Hari has won the Indian National championship every year since 2002, having faced opponents 23 times, winning 17 of them. He also has more than 80 amateur fights to his credit and has appeared in matches in Cuba, Germany, Hungary, Poland, North Korea, Uzbekistan, Malaysia, Dubai and Bangkok.
Hari said he was looking forward to a fight against Joy ‘Jet’ Ali in Fiji in November, if the latter is cleared by the authorities.
In another encounter, Fiji born Tai Ratuere out-boxed his American opponent in the second round, when the latter failed to answer the bell.
Tai was in form, landed good punches and deserved the victory.
“I am now looking forward to a fight with (well known Fijian boxer) Joseph Kwajo later this year,” he said.
1. Hari Venkat 2. Steve Heremaia