Stuff Digital Edition

Gloves off for ‘disrespected’ Motu

Sam Wilson

A rankings snub has given Mea Motu some extra motivation going into her second world title defence in Whangāreitonight.

Motu (17-0, 6 KOs) is the headline act at the city's McKay Stadium as she puts her IBO super bantamweight crown on the line against India’s Chandni Mehra (12-4-1, 4 KOs).

She is joined on the bill by her Peach Boxing team-mate Jerome Pampellone and fellow Northlander Lani Daniels, who is seeking to become New Zealand’s first twoweight world champion when she takes on Australia’s Desley Robinson (5-1, 1 KO).

While Motu is certainly not overlooking the challenge in front of her in the shape of 22-year-old Mehra, she has been angered by the loss of her No 1 ranking with the IBF, delaying her quest to secure a unification bout against champion Ellie Scotney (8-0, 0 KO) of England.

Motu was replaced in the No 1 spot by Ramla Eli, despite the Somali-born Brit suffering a knockout loss earlier this year (which she later avenged). The mother-offive found it difficult to comprehend how she had lost a position she had worked so hard for and suggested that Ali’s powerful promoter – Matchroom supremo Eddie Hearn – might have used his influence.

“That’s fired me up. I feel like I've been disrespected and I found it rude because they just dropped me all of a sudden over someone who has already been knocked out and been beaten, and hasn't really worked hard, where I have worked really hard to get to that top ranking,” complained Motu.

“It's just disgusting for me, because obviously it’s because he’s [Hearn] a big promoter and he's used money to push Ali up there to fight the No 1.”

Despite feeling slighted, Motu would relish the chance to face Ali – a Tokyo Olympian – in an eliminator for the right to challenge Scotney.

But to fulfil those ambitions of unifying the super bantamweight division, Motu must first get past Mehra, a young, accomplished fighter who enjoys both height and reach advantages and has Motu’s promoter Dean Lonergan concerned enough to insert a rematch clause.

Motu has no such doubts about the result as she aims to put on a show in what will be an emotional homecoming.

“It’s going to touch me in my heart, mind, body and soul. I’m going to embrace it and just enjoy the moment,” Motu said of fighting in front of her own people.

“I know she is coming and she really wants that title and she’s going to give it her all. But I just say, ‘good luck!’

“I'm focused on what's in front of me, but I also believe in my ability, and I know my talent and I know how strong I am.”

One reason Motu is so confident in her own ability is that she trains alongside Pampellone and Andrei Mikhailovich daily at the Peach Boxing Gym in west Auckland.

If she can keep pace with two unbeaten male contenders with world title ambitions of their own, then Motu figures no woman will be able to live with her.

“I truly believe that if I can keep up with the boys, I'm unbeatable!” she said.

“My goal is to make a statement, because I definitely want to show the world what the Nightmea Motu is going to do.”





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