Boxing: Beauties turn out in force to see if the Beast lived up to his name

By Chloe Johnson

Rene Ranger, left, and Greg Bird trade punches at the charity event last night. Photo / PHOTOSPORT.CO.NZ.
Rene Ranger, left, and Greg Bird trade punches at the charity event last night. Photo / PHOTOSPORT.CO.NZ.

It was less a Beastly affair than many had perhaps hoped - but the beauties were out to impress.

Thousands of people dressed in glitzy gowns and crisp tailored suits to watch the blood and sweat fly at last night's Woodstock Honey Fight for Life.

The spotlight was initially on celebrities and VIP guests, including politicians, the Ridges and former All Black players, as they arrived at the Waitakere Trusts Arena in Auckland.

Wine flowed and plates of artisan breads decorated the tables as guests chatted in anticipation of the fights.

Last year's female winner Jaime Ridge told the Herald on Sunday she loved being on the other side of the ropes.

"It was nice getting my hair done and not having to get braids," she said.

Her mum Sally said it was a lot less stressful this time.

Jaime Ridge was backing Warriors winger Manu "The Beast" Vatuvei in the celebrity match-up of the night with rower Eric "Just call me Eric" Murray.

That was because Vatuvei was trained by her former trainer Monty Betham. "And Joe Parker," she added. "He is a really good friend of mine."

With the sound of the bell, the mood of the room quickly turned from cocktails and canapes to a serious air.

The first of the celebrity bouts, Rene Ranger going down to Greg Bird, was a scrappy and willing fight.

Paul Gallen beat Hika Elliot on a unanimous points decision. "That was one of the toughest things I've ever done," Gallen said in the post-fight interview. "I'm accustomed to playing rugby league and more than confident about playing 80 minutes, but that's the first time I've done this and my legs were gone after round one."

However, the Beast didn't live up to his name. Murray's stamina helped him cover the ring and evade Vatuvei, who nonetheless took the match on a judges' decision.

Befitting his Olympic gold status, Murray was gracious in defeat." Look at my muscles, they're nothing compared to his," he said. "So we had to work with the skill set I had. I used my fitness and tried to frustrate him."

- Herald on Sunday

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