Māori opponents battle it out for Cruiserweight Title

By Ripeka Timutimu

Tūwharetoa boxer Asher Derbyshire will take on Ngāti Kahungunu's Pane Haraki for the Professional Boxing's cruiserweight title fight in Wellington tonight.

Haraki only got a call to fight Asher Derbyshire on Sunday. It was an opportunity he couldn't pass up.

“I fight anyone, I don't care how big you are, fighting has changed my life, that's why I'm here today,” says Haraki.

The last minute match-up came about after Thomas Heads withdrew due to injury, leaving Derbyshire with no one in the ring.

Haraki says, “I honestly know very little about him but I respect him for taking on the fight.”

His opponent Derbyshire says, “He's tough, he’s durable and he's fit, he's not here just to lay down and it’s definitely gonna be a hard night for me and I'm really looking forward to it.”

With seven wins and two losses on his card, it's been a hard slog for Derbyshire to get a shot at the title against current champion Monty Filimaea.

“We were in talks with them for eight months and we didn't get anywhere, so we went to the NZPBA and it didn't get anywhere, so they made the title vacant and finally a year later we are standing here,” says Derbyshire.

Derbyshire's childhood friend Patrick Taikato will be fighting in one of ten amateur fights on the night. With only three months of prep, he says he's got a lot more to learn.

“I've got two left feet that’s for sure. Probably be going around in circles with the fulla. The main thing is I think is just pick the shots and stay relaxed, it’s not just gonna happen.”

This is the biggest fight of Derbyshire's career. There's no doubt he will be packing a punch tonight on his home turf in front of his friends and family.