The 2023 Pacific Games in Honiara, Solomon Islands, are in full swing, showcasing more than 140 boxers from 17 countries who gathered around the ring of Honiara’s Friendship Hall. On day 4 of the boxing tournament – serving as the Paris 2024 continental qualifier for Oceania – 11 semifinal bouts took place, finalizing the line-up for the 13 Olympic events’ final rounds. The winner in each weight class will be granted a Paris 2024 Quota place, a qualification slot for the next Olympic Games.
The day commenced with one of the quickest bouts of the tournament. It only took 1 minute and 11 seconds for New Zealand’s Tasmyn Te Aorere Hovell Benny to stun her opponent Costance Abana, from the Solomon Islands, chilling thousands of local spectators crowding the otherwise overheated Friendship Arena. Benny qualified for the women’s 50kg final to be held on December 2, where she will go up against Australia’s Monique Suraci.
Minutes later, the same home crowd made a significant difference in the men’s 51kg semifinal featuring local idol Clinton Tetekana. Chanting and cheering, Solomon Island’s supporters boosted Tetekana’s effort, blow after blow. Relentlessly attacking his opponent – Fiji’s Nehal Chand – in a display of sheer power, Tetekana took the lead since round 1, then collecting a series of commanding 10-8s in round 2, to eventually claim victory by unanimous decision. Tetekana will now carry the Solomon Islands’ flag into the final match, where he will face and attempt to defeat Australia’s Yusuf Chothia to pursue his Olympic dream.
Australia’s Tina Rahimi and Tonga’s Feofaaki Epenisa emerged as the winners of the two women’s 57kg semifinals, and are now destined for a final match in two days. On their way to the final, Rahimi beat New Zealand’s Jennifer Clare Peters, winning the votes of all 5 judges to secure a unanimous decision victory. Epenisa, on her side, shattered Kiribati’s hopes by outdoing Teretia Toauriri via a 5:0 decision.
Tokyo 2020 Olympic bronze medalist and 2018 Commonwealth champion Harry Garside, from Australia, outpowered Solomon Islands’ Pemberton Lele in the men’s 63.5kg class, leading with apparent ease in the first two rounds, forcing his opponent into a standing count more than once, and eventually leading Lele’s corner to throw in the towel. Garside, a clear favorite in his weight division, is set to meet Fiji’s Elia Rokobuli, who put on a show of dodging and counterpunching that earned him a 3:2 win against New Zealand’s Kalani Hemi Marra today.
New Zealand’s Wendell Stanley made it to the men’s 71kg final via a unanimous decision win against Nauru’s Lachlan Halstead, booking a spot in the division’s final against Australia’s Shannan Davey, who also advanced through a 5:0 win against Tonga’s Taufa Lavemaau.
One punch can change the outcome of a bout. And this happened once again at today’s men’s +92kg semifinal: New Zealand’s Patrick Mailata led in rounds 1 and 2, winning most of the judges’ votes as he kept on hammering powerful punches on his opponent, Samoa’s Elijah Mercury-Leafa. But 1 minute and 39 seconds into round 3, Mercury-Leafa threw that one punch: a fast, strong, effective hook that grounded Mailata. The referee counted, stopped the contest, and sent the Samoan into the final. There, Mercury-Leafa will meet one of the favorites, Australia’s Teremoana Teremoana – who cleared his semifinal bout by beating Tonga’s Amato Mataika in the first round – in a stellar match that will decide who’s going to the Olympic Games Paris 2024.
The finals phase of the tournament kicks off tomorrow, with the first seven gold medals – and the first seven quota places – to be distributed to the best boxers. Keep up with the latest news on https://boxing.athletes365.org . For additional information and results of the non-Olympic boxing weight classes contested at the tournament, check the official website of the 2023 Pacific Games at https://sol2023.gems.pro.