TARANAKI DAILY NEWS
BUSY TIME: Sam Rapira was named in the team for the Arafura Games in Darwin in May.
Bell Block's Sam Rapira was in knockout form at the national boxing tournament in Auckland on Saturday.
The nationally ranked No 2 won the light-heavyweight division at the Sparc competition.
In the semifinal Rapira knocked out his opponent, Auckland's Isaac Paparoa, in the first round.
"I put him down with a left hook to the body and he didn't beat the count," said Rapira. The New Plymouth cinema projectionist then took on Nik Charaloumpas in the final, beating the Auckland light-heavyweight 18-12.
"I dropped Charaloumpas with the same body shot in the first round but he got up and finished the fight," Rapira said.
Charaloumpas was stepping up to lightweight for the first time. He was a member of the New Zealand team to New Caledonia in December where he won the 75kg middleweight division, while Rapira won gold in the 81kg (light heavyweight) division.
Last Saturday's tournament for Rapira was unfortunately not a recognised national ranking tournament, due to some leading Christchurch based boxers not being available to compete.
But it did double as a selection competition for the Arafura Games in Darwin in May and Rapira was named in the team.
"It will be the biggest tournament to date for me," Rapira said.
"There will be countries from throughout Oceania and also a lot of European countries, including Ireland who are usually one of the strongest teams."
Rapira is looking to have at least two more fights before the Arafura Games.
On returning from Darwin, Rapira will be in action at a fight night in New Plymouth taking on national champion Reece Papuni, of Christchurch, in an official ranking match.