Canada’s Claire Hafner has arrived in Auckland ahead of her tilt at Kiwi star Geovana Peres’ WBO Light Heavyweight crown at Auckland’s SKY CITY Convention Centre on Friday night – and has immediately pledged to take the title back home to Ottawa.
“I am going to win on Friday night,” Hafner said. “It is time to take the belt on to its next journey.”
The world’s No. 2 ranked heavyweight, Hafner dropped weight over the Northern Hemisphere summer to make light heavyweight for her title shot, and has arrived in Auckland looking supremely fit and strong.
“I am ready to go,” she said. “I am super-excited – typical pre-fight excitement, a little bit of nerves. It is an amazing opportunity.”
Hafner and Peres laid eyes on each other for the first time at a photo shoot on Auckland’s Cheltenham Beach on Tuesday morning, with the Canadian challenger saying the Kiwi champion appeared to be “exactly what she expected”.
“That is a good thing. I have seen some video of her and everything seems to match up.”
Hafner, by contrast, is largely an unknown quantity. Her last three wins have come on the road against tough opponents, propelling her up the rankings, however none of those bouts were televised, making schooling up on her a challenge.
“I love that. I like coming in as an unknown and surprising everybody,” she said.
Peres said she wasn’t at all fazed by the lack of knowledge about Hafner.
“I am ready for her. My camp this time was so much more intense than the last one. I am prepared for everything and anything. I am much stronger and fitter than last time [a victory over Lani Daniels in March for the vacant WBO title].
“We worked a lot on skills and had a huge variety of sparring – so, yeah, I am ready.”
Peres declined to say whether she would alter the high-intensity, front-foot approach that earned her the victory over Daniels in a thrilling encounter.
“I guess we’ll have to wait and see. [Hafner] looks like a lovely lady – but I don’t know in the ring what can come. So I can’t make any assumptions. Let’s just go in the ring and see what happens.”
Promoter Bruce Glozier of Rival Sports said the event was on track for a sell-out.
“We’ve got a handful of GA tickets left but they are going fast,” Glozier said. “We’ve actually added in a new standing room only ticket for this show to increase capacity by 150 – but those are very close to being sold out as well. So it is going to be a packed house with an amazing atmosphere on Friday night.”
The main undercard from the event sees Northland’s Daniels take on Auckland’s Tessa Tualevao for the NZ PBC middleweight title – a rematch of a barnstorming drawn contest in August.
The card also features an international heavyweight showdown between Australia Herman Ene-Purcell – the fighter who dropped Paul Gallen in the first round of their 2016 bout – and Kiwi Viliamu Motusaga; plus an international middleweight clash between rising Australia star Desley Robinson and Kiwi prospect Trish Vaka.
PERES v HAFNER, WBO World Light Heavyweight Title Fight presented by GO Rentals
Geovana PERES vs (Blue) Claire HAFNER
WBO Women’s Light Heavyweight World Title
(10 x 2 minute rounds)
Tessa TUALEVAO vs Lani DANIELS
PBC Women’s New Zealand Middleweight Title
(8 x 2 minute rounds)
INTERNATIONAL HEAVYWEIGHT ATTRACTION
Herman ENE PURCELL (AUS) vs Viliamu MOTUSAGA (NZ)
(5 x 3 minutes)
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S BOUT
Patricia VAKA (NZ) vs Desley ROBINSON (Australia)
(4 x 2 minutes)
FIRST PRO FIGHT
Gentiane LUPI (Wellington) vs Karen TE RUKI-PASENE (Northland)
(4 x 2 minutes)