Jesse Ryder could be a character in a cowboy film. We all know his story. He's the wonder boy cricketer from Napier who fell from grace after a public battle with the bottle. He's been dry for 108 days. Ryder faces another challenge tonight - in the ring with radio host Mark Watson in the Godfather of All Fight Nights.

How would you rate the media's performance in covering your journey to "rock bottom"?

I think a lot of it missed the point. Not many articles summed me up. It gets frustrating because these guys don't know you and a lot of what they say is hearsay. I try not to read it or see it. My mates sometimes tell me that someone's had a crack at me. They don't even know me.

What do you miss most about drinking?


Nothing. I'm finding a lot of other things more fun than going out and getting pissed.

Do you think that your bingeing behaviour was typical of many 27-year old New Zealand men?

I see it now - now I'm sober when I go out and see people drunk - that I used to be like that. I've grown up like that. Getting boozed up since I was younger. But also a lot of stuff happened and just because I was there, I was blamed for it. Because of who I am.

What single most revealing thing have you learned about yourself in the past year?

That I don't need the booze to have fun and that I've been able to give it up on my terms, not being forced to. I've also found I'm more confident and I can actually hold a conversation better.

What's so great about boxing?

I find the training good. You can get a bit stuck in cricket and this is a breath of fresh air for me. I sometimes think, why didn't I train this hard for cricket? I worked hard during the week but then I'd waste all the work on the weekends with the bingeing.

What is your favourite film with sport as its central theme?
Remember the Titans had it all.

That racist stuff at school and the team come together and go on to do really well.

Other than sport, what do you care about?

I'm a big music fan. My laptop is busting. I have about 60,000 tracks. I'm learning the guitar and really enjoying that. I'll be able to put more time into that this winter.

What reduces you to tears?

Nothing. No really, I can't remember the last time I cried. When I was a little boy, maybe, and broke my arm.

The Black Caps in Florida - would you have made a difference?

You never know. You like to think so. It was a tough start for them but I'm hopeful they'll pull it together for the one-day series.

What is your highest ambition?

I never dreamed of being a Black Cap. I was never that good at cricket. I played rugby, soccer, basketball, netball, hockey. Then at 15 cricket took over. One day I'd like to be known as the best New Zealand batsman. I'd like to break [Martin] Crowe's record of 299. I'd like to stay off the booze and be consistent.

This is a charity boxing match - who are you donating your fee to?

I'm definitely not donating my fee. But I'm going to auction off my gloves.

What is the coolest thing about life right now?

I've changed so much about myself.

The KFC Godfather of All Fight Nights, also featuring Monte Barrett and Shane Cameron, is on Sky TV tonight.