Fight night allure has fans seeing stars

By Paul Lewis

Silver Fern Kayla Cullen (left) and former Auckland Warriors captain Steve Price. Black ties far outweighed black eyes as the much-anticipated Joseph Parker-Francois Botha boxing card got under way last night.

Celebrities from the world of sport and media were among the crowd of about 1200 at the black tie dinner at Trusts Arena.

On the guest list were former Warriors stalwarts Monty Betham, Steve Price and Wairangi Koopu, Mad Butcher Sir Peter Leitch, Millie Elder-Holmes, Australian underworld celebrity Mick Gatto, Teulia Blakely and TV's Laura McGoldrick and Gretchen Hawkesby.

There was also a large representation from radio to see the The Rock v Mai FM clash between Bryce Casey and Nickson Clark.

Gatto, a former top-line boxer, was acquitted by a Supreme Court jury of the 2004 murder of a Melbourne hitman.

Last year, he survived a A$10 million ($11.9 million) tax bill to sit ringside with some of Melbourne gangland's biggest names at Shane Cameron's bout against Danny Green.

The Trusts Arena main floor - often the scene of netball and basketball clashes - was covered with diners instead of midcourters and centres, as hundreds of members of the public lined the upstairs flanks of the stadium.

First indications of the pick-up of the pay-per-view offering from Sky were encouraging with Duco estimating packages sold would be about the company's fifth best take-up for a fight - coming in behind the latest edition of Fight For Life.

However, with Parker still a new name on the boxing scene, this bout is very much an introduction for the 21-year-old, regarded as a fine heavyweight prospect, albeit unproven before this fight.

- NZ Herald

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