Boxing will take centre court this summer, with two of the country's brightest talents to square off at the ASB Tennis Centre in February.
The tennis centre, which was on the verge of a second straight dormant summer after the cancellation of the ASB Classic, will play host to the Culture Kings Boxing Classic on February 26, headlined by undefeated light heavyweight prospects Jerome Pampellone and John Parker - with the New Zealand light heavyweight title on the line.
First reported by the Herald in September, the initial plans were to host the event in December. However, with Auckland being in lockdown, those plans had to be pushed out and Podis Boxing promoter Nick Randell said lockdown gave him an opportunity to really plan things out.
"Lockdown has given us time to think – a lot goes into planning an event like this, and it's exciting to be going ahead," Randell said.
Pampellone, 25, has raced to an 10-0 record as a professional since leaving the amateur ranks last December, with six of his 10 wins coming inside the distance. He fought 52 times as an amateur, with one of his most impressive performances coming in a split decision defeat to heavyweight David Nyika, another rising star in Kiwi boxing, in Taupo last October.
Parker, 27, is a familiar name on the New Zealand boxing scene – the younger brother of former WBO world heavyweight champion Joseph Parker. A talent in his own right, Parker holds a 7-0 record, with three of his last four wins coming inside the distance.
The confirmation of the event comes after a successful return to action for Joseph Parker (30-2) last weekend, who impressively out-pointed British heavyweight counterpart Derek Chisora (32-12) in a rematch of their much closer encounter in May. Kiwi cruiserweight David Nyika (2-0) fought on the same card as Parker, claiming a first-round stoppage after French opponent Anthony Carpin (5-7-2) retired due to injury.
"New Zealand boxing is booming right now," Randell said.
"We're pushing on from the Joseph Parker and David Nyika success with a large outdoor event that has never been done, with top talent from New Zealand - headlined by two undefeated prospects for the New Zealand light heavyweight title.
"It's an event that will reignite Auckland in a celebration of homegrown, top New Zealand boxing talent in a summer event at the under-utilised ASB tennis venue."
While Pampellone and Parker will headline the event, the undercard is expected to include three bouts featuring top New Zealand talent, as well as some celebrity corporate bouts, with tickets on sale in early January.