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Boxing: Jesse Ryder looks to hit back

Jesse Ryder will step into the ring as part of the KFC Godfather of all Fight Nights. Photo / Doug Sherring
Jesse Ryder will step into the ring as part of the KFC Godfather of all Fight Nights. Photo / Doug Sherring

Jesse Ryder is calling out former New Zealand cricketer Craig McMillan to meet him in a charity boxing match next month.

Ryder has put his name forward to debut on the undercard of the KFC Godfather of all Fight Nights which will feature Shane Cameron v Monte Barrett, on July 5 at Sky City in Auckland.

The origins of Ryder's request stem from last summer's Twenty20 match between New Zealand and South Africa at Eden Park. Ryder was returning to the New Zealand side after a calf injury layoff.

McMillan said Ryder was selfish trying to reach 50. He used up nine balls to get one run.

At the time McMillan told Radio Sport: "It's always dangerous when you put yourself ahead of the team and I think that's what Jesse Ryder did last night."

Ryder, 27, wants McMillan to don the gloves and be part of his drive to get physically fit and into a state of mind where he feels comfortable playing for New Zealand again.

Ryder lapsed after the McMillan criticism and eventually broke team protocol in Napier by hitting the town.

"Craig's quite a competitive guy and, I imagine, quite a tough opponent," Ryder says. "It will be good if he takes part. There were a few things he said in the media about being selfish so I want him to step up and help me get back.

"I wanted to win that game. Who wouldn't want to finish it when it gets that close? It was disappointing to cop that flak."

Promoter David Higgins of Duco Events says it would make for another perfect high-profile bout on the evening's undercard to match the likes of socialite Jaime Ridge versus The GC show's Rosanna Arkle.

"It is a big coup for us getting Jesse on board. When we found out he liked boxing, we got in contact and he's agreed to make his boxing debut on television. That's courageous. There's nowhere to hide and no one to rely on. He doesn't want to lose so it's pressure and adrenaline, rolled into one. He also gets a chance to knuckle down, get fit, gain confidence and lose weight."

Ryder and any opponent-to-be will wear 16 ounce gloves and headgear. They will compete over three two-minute rounds. Ryder will adopt an orthodox rather than southpaw stance, despite being a left-handed batsman.

Ryder has done some boxing-oriented fitness work in the past at Billy Graham's Naenae gym in Lower Hutt. He hit the bag, skipped, did drills such as press-ups and sit-ups but never sparred in the ring.

He knows it'll be different in front of a hyped-up crowd.

"Nothing seems to faze me on the cricket field so I hope that continues in the ring," Ryder says.

Higgins says McMillan fits the bill as an opponent because of his size and the history between the pair.

"Craig hammered Jesse in the media, now he has the chance to put his chin where his mouth is.

"We're prepared to put an attractive offer together for Craig to do six minutes in the ring. However, if he ducks for cover we have another couple of names we're lining up. We doubt Jesse will back down from any challenge." Ryder is also aiming to get down from his current weight of 106kg to 96kg.

- Herald on Sunday

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