Boxing: Kiwi David Nyika's opponent announced for professional debut

Rising Kiwi boxer David Nyika's opponent for his professional debut on the undercard of the Joseph Parker-Junior Fa bout has been confirmed.

Duco Events has announced that the two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist will square off against Jess Maio in a cruiserweight bout at Spark Arena on February 27.

Known as 'The Maniac', Maio fights out of West Auckland's Peach Boxing and is also a relative newcomer to the pro scene, boasting a record of 3-0, including one win via knockout.

Nyika has been embedded in the Parker camp, where he's sparred with the former WBO world champion.

"It's been a huge honour being part of the Joseph Parker camp and I'm looking forward to getting this first one under my belt," Nyika says.

The Tokyo-bound fighter will exploit a clause that allows him to fight a handful of professional bouts and still be eligible to compete at the Olympics in July.

Still just 25 years old, the Hamiltonian has a wealth of amateur experience under his belt and is expected to fare equally as well at the next level.

Since his 2009 debut, he's fought 55 times and  has dominated an array of tournaments over the past year, including strong events in Warsaw, Canberra, Glasgow and Shokodra.

At the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, he topped the podium in the men's light-heavyweight division, before stepping up and conquering the heavyweight division on the Gold Coast four years later.

COVID-19 has made sourcing opponents difficult for Nyika and he admits Maio comes as a relative mystery.

"He's undefeated," says Nyika. "He's from a reputable boxing gym - he's got a lot of tattoos, good haircut, nice fade.

"He's really tough, so I'm looking forward to soaking up whatever he has to throw at me and giving it back."

Expectations are sky high for Nyika's prospects on the professional stage, but he insists the only pressure he feels is that which he places upon himself.

"I'm starting to get better at blocking all of that out, but all this media stuff is a bit different and having to face off with your opponent is a bit different

"I love the pressure, the pressure makes me a better person. It makes me humble when I lose and feel really good when I win.

"It feels like I've done this all my life… this is what I do and I do it very well. I'm really excited for this opportunity to fight on such a major card."

At 1.93m (6ft 4in), Nyika will have a significant reach and height advantage over the much shorter Maio, who is confident he can overcome that discrepancy on fight night.

"I've just got to keep it close, make it a dog fight and I think I'm pretty good at doing that," Maio says.

"When I was younger, I was told to be the man you have to beat the man - and I believe David Nyika is the man.

"I can shock the world with this fight."