It was a case of getting into slow waltzes rather than their usual fast deliveries when former New Zealand cricketer Chris Cairns (43) beat Simon Doull (44) in a unanimous points victory at the Woodstock Fight For Life last night.
Cairns' persistence with his overhand right and consistency with combinations convinced the judges he was worthy of a unanimous victory.
Doull was more circumspect and, when he launched a flurry of punches, they tended to be absorbed by Cairns' block. Cairns' style was more washing machine with his roundhouse approach compared to Doull's more upright sewing machine punch delivery.
Cairns, described by the ringmaster as "a gentleman of the game", in reference to his cricketing prowess, strolled in to Prodigy's Firestarter. Doull swaggered in to Metallica's Enter Sandman.
"I'd like to thank Doully for coming out as a mate because there have been a lot of things going on," Cairns said. "It's the most demanding sport I've ever encountered. Doully's a strong man and he can take a few punches.
"It was a good chance to come and enjoy the buzz in front of a large crowd again. I haven't done that for eight years. It'll be the first and last time for a while."
Doull was similarly effusive about his opponent.
"You've put on a big show tonight, so congrats to coming out without worrying about things too much and training over the last week and a half with all that crap going on. Good on ya," he said in reference to reports of an International Cricket Council investigation into allegations of match-fixing. Cairns has strenuously denied any involvement.
Doull produced one of the better retorts of the night when MC Clint Brown hinted they might have struggled to produce many punches in the last round. "Cos we're stuffed," Doull blurted.
The next fight was between the two biggest bruisers of the night - Chiefs prop Ben Tameifuna (who weighed in at a mere 144kg) and Kangaroos and Brisbane Broncos forward Sam Thaiday. Tameifuna had the size and the superior punching power but Thaiday had the better movement and defence, winning a close fight on points.
All three rounds were evenly matched, Tameifuna swinging harder but Thaiday managing to land more.
It was a night where tuxedo hire outlets would have been in overdrive as guests sampled the pugilism and a menu which included Marlborough salmon fillet, sirloin of beef and ricotta and pear cheesecake.
Among those watching were former New Zealand cricketer Dion Nash, ex-All Black Craig Innes and new Warrior Sam Tomkins. A number of Chiefs were out in support of team-mates Liam Messam and Tameifuna.
Television presenter Stephen McIvor and writer Steve Kilgallon put up a spirited scrap in the opening fight which the judges saw as a draw, in spite of a popular opinion that McIvor should have won. McIvor knocked Kilgallon down in the second round for a standing eight count but Kilgallon produced several punching flurries across the fight to redeem himself.