Regional | Alrie Meleisea

Lani Daniels: Pīpīwai has a heavyweight world champion

Photo / Facebook

Lani Daniels (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Hine) has won the IBF women's world heavyweight title after dominating her Auckland-born Samoan opponent Alrie Meleisea in a history-making fight on Saturday in Tāmaki Makaurau.

Everything was set up perfectly for the world title fight on an evening when Māori and Pasifika cultures were celebrated.

After Meleisea entered the ring, a karanga began Daniels' entrance and as she made her way to the ring a haka broke out.

After both fighters entered the ring, Mika Haka performed the New Zealand national anthem and haka, E te rangatahi e ngunguru nei.

In the first four rounds, Daniels consistently landed accurate, cleaner shots as the two boxers fought in the pocket of each other.

And from the fifth round onwards, Daniels started feeling her rhythm as she moved and picked her shots.

"There were moments in the sixth and seventh rounds when it felt like Alrie Meleisea would go down, but she showed true heart and stayed on her feet," New Zealand boxing writer Benjamin Watt said following the internationally televised fight.

"The fight started to get bloodied with Alrie Meleisea dripping blood out of her nose and a small cut on her left eyebrow, but not a serious cut.

"At the beginning of the fight, Alrie Meleisea's clothes were white, at the end, it was pink from her blood."

Daniels grew in confidence in the last three rounds, distracting Meleisea with her arm and almost taunting her.

In the last round, spirits were high for both boxers. Both had a smile on their faces.

Even though Daniels won the fight, Meleisea was happy to be in the moment.

At the end of the fight, Daniels raised her arms, signalling her victory.

Two judges scored the fight 98 - 92 and one judge, 99 - 91, with Daniels winning the fight unanimously.

After the fight, Daniels said this was supposed to be her last fight but if major sponsors backed her, big paydays came in, and a promoter could be found, she would continue her boxing career.

Daniels whose home is in Pīpīwai has been living in a West Auckland gym since January and has not been working this entire time. Now she can finally return home to the north.

The fight made history on multiple accounts, as the first world title contested between Māori and Pasifika, the first Pasifika female to fight for a world title, and the first world title contested between two New Zealand-born boxers.

Daniels becomes the fourth Māori world boxing champion.