Chris Rattue 's Opinion

Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Chris Rattue: Fight on? Shane needs head examined

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Mountain Warrior has never been same since fearful pounding from David Tua.

Shane Cameron took more punishment in his defeat by American Brian Minto when the two squared up in Auckland on Saturday night. Photo / Getty Images
Shane Cameron took more punishment in his defeat by American Brian Minto when the two squared up in Auckland on Saturday night. Photo / Getty Images

Far be it from me to suggest here that boxer Shane Cameron should retire.

It's a free world, and if the Mountain Warrior wants to be dribbling soup down his chin at 50 while trying to remember where he lives, that's his choice. He's also a fondly regarded part of the New Zealand sporting landscape, with an army of fans still willing him on one presumes, even if sporadic claims about his world title pedigree have erred on the side of complete and utter fantasy (what's boxing without spit buckets full of hyperbole, even in this little corner of the pugilistic world?).

If Cameron wants to review the tape for a glimpse at his future, he can forget about what occurred against Brian Minto two days ago. The tape that matters is Cameron's 2009 Fight of the Century (another marvellous example of boxing extravagance) against David Tua, who pinged Cameron's head with a rapidity to match Woody Woodpecker dealing to timber.

Bang, bang, bang, BANG, bang, bang, BANG, bang ... it still induces an awful wince thinking about it.

There can't be many times when a puncher as lethal as Tua has landed such a quick succession of blows without the referee stepping in or the canvas rising up to claim the victim earlier.

No one should dare suggest Cameron escaped at least some irreversible damage that horrific night, damage that further bouts exacerbate but will only emerge later.

Not that a wimp with a keyboard knows but hell, let's push out the boat and claim that Cameron hasn't been the same fighter since. But good ol' Mountain and his Mountain Men were still talking the talk leading up to the Minto moment, about how strong Cameron felt, his knockout punch, how Cameron could destroy people. Yippee.

Boxing - what a conundrum. Absolutely love it sometimes, can't bear to watch on others. Nothing in sporting luck will match the day I sat with American heavyweight legend Joe Frazier, alone with a childhood hero who - all those years ago - came from a world that was more like another planet. The trouble being, one of the most courageous men to enter through the ropes was virtually impossible to understand. (A TV documentary involving Frazier gave him subtitles.) A handler pleaded that Frazier's speech was affected by a car accident. That explains it.

Sounds of silence
This is what should really worry the Wellington Phoenix - their horrific start to the A-league season is being greeted with a yawn. Nine games, no wins, after a defeat to Brisbane in Wellington. Carlos Hernandez aside, there isn't much classy hope on offer. Ernie Merrick's velvet revolution is at the foot of the table.

Only one of this country's teams commands a public reaction to indicate all is well - the All Blacks even get bagged (slightly criticised in an analytical way) when they win. This should please Steve Tew and co, although it probably doesn't.

Our cricketers are an anomaly. The game is so small here you could hold tests on a village green, and to prove the point we do. The public simply doesn't have the energy to fire up for every bad performance or inexplicable decision. Using the talkback barometer, our cricketers can still light up the board though.

Elsewhere, the silence is deafening. For example: Kiwi league losses, really bad ones, come and go and most people don't give a stuff. Kiwi teams laden with NRL talent are routinely smashed by Australia, including when they have been on an amazing journey developing an incredible team culture to defend their precious world crown. And boy, you need to understand what Sonny Bill Williams brings to the group.

Buried in a Sunday newspaper was the prediction that Steve Kearney would almost certainly keep his Kiwis coaching job. The New Zealand Rugby League's Phil Holden likened this to the rugby situation which culminated in The Amazing Graham Henry World Cup Miracle. One hates to be a smarty pants but there are a few differences, like ... oh, I can't be bothered.

Acclaim our cricketers
Congratulations to the Kiwi cricketers, for an outstanding win over perhaps the worst and most gutless West Indian team to have waved a bat without anger on these shores. The tourists have little technique, application or heart. The New Zealand Cricket number-crunchers, robbed of a weekend crowd at the Basin Reserve, will be quietly cursing the Collapso Kings. But it was still terrific to bask in an excellent all-round New Zealand cricket performance and Trent Boult's wonder catch was thrilling. There have been periods when fielding was New Zealand cricket's calling card. This aspect may have emerged in the team which drew a long series in the Caribbean in the early 70s. Forty years on, the Windies would kill for blokes who were spare parts then. For sports fans of a certain age, it is weird to watch the Windies without a scary fast bowler. No offence, but Darren Sammy at first change feels like a practical joke.

- NZ Herald

Chris Rattue

Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Chris Rattue writes about a wide range of sports for the New Zealand Herald. He has covered numerous sporting events for the Herald including Rugby World Cups and the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

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