PAPUA New Guinea 48kg boxing champion Lui Magaiva will have his debut international fight when he takes on Leboqnag Pilane of South Africa in the preliminaries final of the AIBA World Boxing championship in Milan, Italy, next week.
Junior flyweight Magaiva was part of the largest ever Oceania contingent for the AIBA World Championships despite being the smallest of all the boxing confederations in the world.
Coach Joe Aufa said before joining Magaiva in Milan that he had confidence in the Bereina lad’s ability to beat his opponent.
Magaiva who dethroned veteran Jack Willie in the PNGABU selection trials held at Murray Barracks last month will carry the hope and flag for PNG when he steps into the ring next Friday.
Aufa said Magaiva and the Oceania team took part in the International Training Camp in Assisi before the championships – thanks to AIBA assistance.
Such assistance has enabled more of the smaller Pacific nations to be represented than ever before and the experience they gain this year would stand them and their nations in good stead for the future.
Apart from Magaiva, competing for American Samoa is middleweight Alema Vaele and for the Solomon Islands flyweight Benedict Telovae.
For Fiji there is another featherweight, Mohammed Shahmeem, for Samoa bantamweight Sinapapa Sanele and for Nauru there is heavyweight Jake Ageidu.
Last year’s Oceanian Championships were dominated by Australia who won nine of the 11 gold medals available.
Their brightest hope for a medal in Milan is arguably Mark Basile at welterweight, while Damian Hooper is a good young prospect at middleweight.
New Zealand’s challenge is led by another middleweight, Nathan McEwen, a southpaw who has improved a lot lately and is expected to perform well.