Boxing: Ryder calls time out for stint as Rocky

By Steve Deane

Jesse Ryder hopes the boxing will help make him a better person and a fitter, better cricket player. Picture / Natalie Slade.
Jesse Ryder hopes the boxing will help make him a better person and a fitter, better cricket player. Picture / Natalie Slade.

It was the question we weren't allowed to ask. It was also the only one anyone really wants answered, so ask we did. How could Jesse Ryder be up for a scrap on the Shane Cameron boxing undercard and yet not be right to play cricket for his country?

"I am right to play cricket. I saw it as a good chance for me to take a bit of time out."

So there we have it. Ryder turned down a New Zealand Cricket contract because he wanted to do different things. He still loves cricket, still wants to play and will be back in action for Wellington next summer. He simply wanted to step off the treadmill and on to, well, hopefully a treadmill, if he wants to get into shape for a semi-professional boxing bout on July 5.

"When you are touring for 11 months of the year it can get a bit stressful," Ryder said. "And over the South African series times got tough. So I took this opportunity to make me a better person - get fit and come summer get back into the cricket and hopefully become a much better player and better person.

Surely that will help the teams that I make it back into in the long run?

"Basically I am taking this winter to venture out and do new things. This fight is perfect. It is taking my mind away from cricket a bit."

Ryder's body and soul rehabilitation is to include four two-minute rounds against sports radio jock Mark Watson on a curious boxing bill that also features this country's most exciting boxing prospect, Joseph Parker, and a catfight between two reality TV wannabes.

It's hard to tell whether the promotion should be condemned for cheapening boxing or praised for taking it to a wider audience.

Certainly Ryder's presence is at the novelty end of the scale. Before a bit of late-night Twitter slapping, Ryder admitted he had never heard of former multisport athlete Watson.

"I don't expect Jesse to have heard of me," retorted Watson. "I have a reasonably intelligent audience."

The jibe didn't get a rise out of Ryder. "You can't argue with that, really," he shrugged.

Despite Watson's background as an endurance athlete Ryder, who is hoping to trim down from 110kg to 105kg for the fight, doesn't believe his best chance will be to land an early haymaker.

"No no, I am going to out-box him. Fitness won't be an issue."

A quick stoppage is precisely what promotor Duco is saying won't occur in Parker's first pro fight, against Dean Garmonsway.

The 38-year-old Huntly school teacher is a tough character with three pro fights under his belt, which allegedly makes him a genuine test for the most gifted heavyweight prospect this country has produced since David Tua.

Believe that if you will.

Garmonsway at least seems to understand his role pretty well. Asked what his best qualities as a fighter were he said: "I can take a punch, I guess."

- NZ Herald

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