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Wuzhati Nuerlang, left, and Francis Waitai at weigh in. Photo: SUPPLIED

Oceania title bout ends in draw for Waitai

A capacity crowd of passionate boxing fans gathered at Chongqing’s 9000-seater main arena in China on Saturday, November 25, to witness a spectacular display of athleticism and skill.
Whilst also being broadcast live on China Channel 5, simultaneously a global audience of more than 10,000 boxing enthusiasts tuned into the livestream from Chongqing to witness the highly anticipated clash between New Zealand’s own Francis ‘The Punisher’ Waitai and Wuzhati ‘Ozat’ Nuerlang, China’s esteemed Light Heavyweight champion.
The stakes were high, with the coveted WBO Light Heavyweight Oceania Title and a spot in the top 15 world rankings hanging in the balance. The 10-round battle proved to be closely contested. The judges’ scorecards reflected the intensity of the bout, rendering a split decision of 96-94, 95-95, 93-97, ultimately deeming the match a draw.
Although the decision may not have favoured either pugilist, Waitai graciously acknowledged the toughness of his opponent, describing the bout as a “good fight”.
Despite the draw, Waitai’s boxing skills catapulted him further up the world rankings, also attracting attention from global promoters eager to showcase his formidable skills in future bouts.
Francis Waitai’s coach, Shaun George, of Team George Promotions, extended gratitude to the Chinese hosts for organizing a professional event and providing an overall exceptional experience.
Reflecting on the bout, Shaun noted that Francis had excelled in the early rounds, out-jabbing and out-manoeuvring his opponent. 

While ‘Ozat’ utilised “punch and hold” tactics in the latter half of the bout, it was Francis who finished stronger, staggering Ozat with powerful combinations in the final rounds. Shaun, while acknowledging the close nature of the fight, believed Waitai had done enough to secure a win.
Amid discussions of a potential rematch, Waitai expressed a preference for the fight to be in his preferred weight division, Super Middleweight.
Taking a well-deserved break for recovery, Waitai is gearing up for an eventful 2024, with numerous international fight opportunities on the horizon.
Waitai hopes to inspire others with his journey, emphasizing that hard work can lead to success. Proud of his roots in Hauraki and the town of Paeroa, Waitai shared: “You don’t need a lot”.
“I just worked hard on my sport, and now it’s sending me around the world.”
Reflecting on his time in China, Waitai expressed admiration for the vibrant culture and the warmth of the people of Chongqing.
Despite its bustling nature, he felt welcomed and appreciated the hospitality of the locals, creating lasting memories of his remarkable journey.