Boxing: Ranger danger despite loss

By Cameron Leslie

Taniwha legend Rene Ranger proved his all-round attacking ability in the Fight For Life despite controversially losing, leaving his Super 15 coach excited about the season ahead.

A nervous looking Ranger attacked right from the bell on saturday night, effectively using his 6cm reach advantage over league hardman Greg Bird, and never looked like stopping, even when the referee tried to interject.

Bird's controversial victory was thanks mainly to a two-point deduction imposed on the Northland rugby star for punching Bird on the break, knocking him to the canvas in the process. The looping right hand unsettled Bird, who showed plenty of courage to box on.

Ranger also put Bird down again in the final round with a chopping left but it wasn't enough to overcome the deduction and Bird's strong opening round.

Ranger said after the fight that the decision could have gone either way but was grateful to be given the opportunity to fight for a cause like prostate cancer awareness.

"It was 50/50, but you know he got the belt, and yeah let's go have a beer now," said the crowd favourite Ranger.

Before the fight, Bird admitted he did not know much about Ranger but know he does, adding "I won't be getting in [the ring] with him again."

Blues coach Sir John Kirwan joked that if he was well-known boxing promotor Don King he wouldn't be happy with Ranger's result. "I'd be going to see those referees," laughed Kirwan.

"I thought Rene was outstanding, and in all seriousness, I think Rene [Ranger] has done the Blues proud and he's here for the right reasons. I'm looking forward to having him back on the training field rather than the boxing."

The rest of the charity card featured some genuine blood and thunder contests.

Rowing star Eric Murray will be heading back to his day job a little the worse for wear today after surviving three rounds in the boxing ring against Manu "The Beast" Vatuvei - with the win eventually going to Vatuvei.

Carlos Spencer's superior boxing skills saw him come out on top against a fired-up Jarrod McCracken.

The former Kiwis hardman lived up to his reputation from his playing days, attempting to manhandle Spencer around the ring.

Willie Mason and Troy Flavell turned on an old-fashioned bar room brawl, with the judges scoring it a majority draw.

New South Wales captain Paul Gallen displayed a good degree of skill to go with his legendary toughness to score a unanimous victory over All Black hooker Hika Elliot.

- Northern Advocate

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