Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.
Hemi Ahio, left, overcame a major size difference to take out Julius Long in his last fight in February.
New Zealand boxer Hemi Ahio will rush to Dubai on Friday to fight for the vacant WBC Asia heavyweight title.
The Oct. 17 fight against Iranian Mohammad Ali Bayat Farid has been in the works for some time, but depended on Ohio, who fights at the City Kickboxing Gym in Auckland, securing an MIQ position to return to New Zealand.
The 31-year-old got that on Tuesday and is now heading to Dubai determined to seize an opportunity he hopes will open doors for him in Britain.
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The Covid environment has been tough for Ahio, limiting him to two fights in the past two years, just as he was starting to turn heads internationally with some decent wins in the United States helping him to a 17-0 record.
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“Winning this title will open the doors to fight higher rank fighters, so I will be known,” Ahio said.
“I would love to spend time boxing in Great Britain because there seem to be some really good heavyweights.
“The only problem we have in New Zealand is that there are not constantly performances like there are in Britain and the United States.”
Ahio will be a co-main event on a map promoted by former UK Unified Light Welterweight Champion Amir Khan, with the show targeting some major players in the flourishing cryptocurrency environment.
Ahio co-manager Mark Keddell was delighted to see Ahio secure an MIQ spot in the lottery.
“It was pretty much the last chance, and he got a spot, so it’s all set now and it’s great for Hemi. He just wants to fight, it’s been a tough few years for him, ”Keddell told Stuff.
Keddell said Ohio and his trainer Doug Viney will stay in Dubai to help UFC City Kickboxing fighter Dan Hooker prepare for his clash with Islam Makhachev in Abu Dhabi on October 31.
Ahio embarks on the fight against Dubai-based Farid with little knowledge of his opponent who has a reputation as a knockout artist.
Farid’s 17 wins are all due to saves, although he suffered two losses and a draw in his professional career which started in 2012 and saw him fight in Thailand, Germany, Turkey, Spain, Croatia, Great Britain and South Africa.
“He’s going to try to behead Hemi,” Keddell said of Farid’s likely approach. “I hope Hemi can ping him and make a statement.”
Ahio trained with Viney in Mangawhai, still hopeful that the fight would ensue.
Although he is in great shape, his biggest struggle has been the lack of training partners due to border restrictions in Auckland.