Rising star David Nyika is boxing for something bigger than just a win


Rising cruiserweight David Nyika will be fighting in a big stage in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Saturday night.

The New Zealander is all too aware he needs to impress after being handed a golden opportunity to fight on the spectacular undercard which will precede Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk's historic heavyweight title fight.

However, Nyika (8-0, 7 KOs) is also attempting to win for another cause, raising money for the Against Malaria Foundation, pledging $10 for every punch both he and opponent Michael Seitz (12-0, 10 KOs) land. Fans can also pledge a donation, with over $25,000 already raised for people in Uganda effected by malaria -- particularly children -- and it's a cause close to Nyika's heart.

"Obviously I'm ramming things down people's throats on social media, but it feels like such an easy thing for me to keep just doing," Nyika tells ESPN. "I'm going to fight hard like I always do and land a lot of punches and raise a lot of money for a really cool cause.

"I've always wanted to go back to Uganda where my father's heritage dates back to. I've got three nephews under five that could very well be living in [different] circumstances if we were a couple of generations prior. It's a nice way to give back, it's just a small percentage of what I'll be making in this next fight."

Nyika is working alongside High Impact Athletes, an organisation that helps athletes use their profiles to help causes in need. Tennis stars Stefanos Tsitsipas and Bianca Andreescu, as well as heavyweight Joseph Parker also work with the charity.

"It's something that I can see as my following and my boxing credibility increases, [the fundraising] will keep expanding. If this seed takes and comes to fruition there will be something really beautiful down the end of my career" Nyika says. "Whether this takes off [or not] I can't tell you, but I just plead with everyone to get on board and make a small pledge. It really does take an army to make a difference."

In the ring, Nyika has an opportunity to impress the Saudi powerbrokers and break into the WBO and IBF rankings. He has Tyson Fury's team to thank after he gained their respect following training camps with Fury and fellow countrymen Parker.

"You only get one chance to impress the Saudis so we're going to put our best foot forward and put on our best performance," Nyika says. "I managed to get this opportunity through getting to know Tyson and his inner circle. I was able to impress his manager, Spencer Brown, through sparring and what not. He made a point of getting me on this card and exposing me to the world. This is my one shot, one opportunity, Eminem, "Lose Yourself" moment. It's a really cool opportunity to put myself on the biggest stage."

As Nyika plots his path to the top, he's taking inspiration from others from his part of the world including the likes of Parker and Australians Jai Opetaia, Justis Huni and Skye Nicolson. Even more comforting is his experience sparring with, among others, cruiserweight champions Opetaia and Chris Billam-Smith.

"Yeah I was actually asked to come into camp with [Chris] so I know him well. I know my style doesn't suit him at all and if I had my way, I would get him out of there pretty early," Nyika says.

"Jai is a completely different animal. We've been to war a fair few times and in fairness he's probably gotten the better of me more times than I have, but the tides were starting to shift. I'd like to think in the next 18 months we'll cross paths and I'll be able to come out victorious. I honestly feel like I've come so far in the last 18 to 24 months. I've shifted so many gears I didn't know I had."