It’s been an emotional homecoming for New Zealand boxer Mea Motu ahead of her IBO World bantamweight title defence.
Motu will fight India’s Chandni Mehra in her hometown of Northland this Saturday night on a card which also features fellow Northland boxer Lani Daniels and team-mate Jerome Pampellone.
The exchanges with her opponent have been cordial throughout the week, but Motu said that all changes in the ring.
“Once I hit those ropes, walk through the ring, that’s home, and you ain’t taking my tūpuna whenua from me,” Motu said.
Motu (17-0) has been given further motivation to perform after a recent ranking snub.
Motu was replaced in the IBF number one rank spot by Ramla Eli, despite the Somali boxer being knocked out earlier this year.
“That’s fuelled me. It’s made me angry. It’s a disgrace. I feel disrespected. I’ve won all my fights undefeated and then someone that got knocked out and then fights again and then wins, just, and she goes above me? I don’t understand.”
She said she was ready to make a definitive statement in the division.
“I’m hungry for this fight and this is definitely a special moment for me because all my whānau coming to support me. Kia kaha our strength, you’re gonna see you’re gonna see my mana.”
Joining her on the card is Daniels, also from Northland, who meets Australian Desley ‘Lady D’ Robinson for the vacant IBF light heavyweight title.
“It’s really hard to put into words, that’s how much it means it’s very special and close to my heart and I’m just trying to embrace the moment as best I can,” Daniels said.
Daniels said it had been a draining camp.
“I can’t wait to put on the show but I need to knuckle down now, last week was a hell of a week. So I’m looking forward to putting my head down and unleashing the beast.”
Motu also said it had been an emotionally exhausting week back home.
“Pukepoto, Te Rarawa my hometown, my marae. I’m proud to finally go back home and, you know for to have my people bring me back home, it’s going to be something special to me,” Motu said.
Connecting with her Māori roots has empowered Motu ahead of the fight.
“I’m hori rough and rugged, and I’m from the land. I’ve had nothing but love and support and just unconditional aroha, that’s the biggest ink. It’s great to be proud to be Maori, that’s what makes it even more special because it shows that we Māori people are great and we were destined for challenges like this because we’re definitely tough.”
She said the card was another chance to showcase the strength of Māori boxing.
“This is where I whakapapa, this is my bloodline. The best thing is to showcase that to our people, and to our tamariki fight to see that us Māori are bloody great. It’s gonna be awesome and it’s gonna be loud that’s for sure. I know that.”
Jerome Pampellone vs Rogelio Luna, light heavyweight, 7pm
Lani Daniels vs Desley Robinson, IBF World Heavyweight Title, 8pm
Mea Motu vs Chandni Mehra, IBO World Super Bantam Title, 9pm