World heavyweight boxing has had me in thrall since I was a primary school kid in the 1950s, and on the family farm outside Morrinsville my father and his friends would gather round a valve radio and listen through the static to live broadcasts from New York and Chicago to Rocky Marciano defending his title against men with brilliant names like Ezzard Charles and Jersey Joe Walcott.
Boxing, if you've seen the damage it can do to fighters later in their lives, will always be a slightly guilty pleasure, but the power of its siren song was working again when Anthony Joshua boxed the ears off Andy Ruiz Jr to retain his heavyweight title.
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There's so much nonsense that surrounds these bouts, from the costuming of the boxers and their entourage as they come to the ring, to cheesy looking belts, to the overwrought ring announcing, that it's hard not to smile until the primal moment arrives when two large men start trying to hit each other as hard as they can.
Joshua is such a charmer outside the ring, easily able to swap quips with Graham Norton on television, that it's hard not to be in his corner, but when Ruiz came waddling out, carrying the hopes of pudgy men all over the world, all bets on who to support were off.
The bout itself was so one-sided it reminded me enormously of the crushing defeat Lennox Lewis inflicted on David Tua in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay hotel in 2000, the only time I've ever sat on a press bench at a world title bout, just three rows from the ring.
The build-up to the Vegas fight had been memorable. There were men in gold chains and fur coats swanning around the venue, a scattering of B grade Hollywood stars, and when a deep voice behind me said, "Excuse me, I think I'm sitting there next to you," I turned and saw it was former world champion, Evander Holyfield, who was working with the BBC as a radio commentator.
Ultimately Lewis took no chances, Tua couldn't get within punching range of a man a head taller than he was, and the points decision was as clear cut as the call in Joshua's favour in Saudi Arabia.
In Vegas in 2000 Holyfield, in an impeccable pin-striped suit, and still built like Superman, looked like a million dollars himself. So it was sad news when he was declared bankrupt in 2012, reduced to selling every piece of memorabilia he owned to pay tax and child maintenance bills.
Sadly it's not an uncommon story with boxers. In 1985, covering the Sydney to Melbourne footrace, I shared a meal at a café in the New South Wales town of Gundagi with former boxer, Joe Bugner, who with his wife Marlene, who had a beauty product business, was supporting the New Zealand runner, Siggy Bauer, who that year finished second.
Bugner, born in Hungary, but British raised, was a giant of a man who went the distance twice with Muhammad Ali, and once with Joe Frazier.
His most memorable fight was in Kuala Lumpur in 1975 when Ali beat him on points after 15 sweltering rounds.
Bugner told me how on the 13-hour flight from London to Kuala Lumpur he was jackknifed into an economy class seat when his two diminutive managers, fast talkers from London's East End, stretched out in the first-class cabin. He was such a sweet natured man that a decade later he still wasn't angry, just mildly amused, about the arrangement. "Well, they did come back a few times to see me, and brought drinks for me from first class."
When Bugner retired for the first time, in 1977, he discovered that the Rolls Royce he thought had been a gift from the managers was actually just leased. "I looked out the window the morning after I'd said I'd retired, and there was a tow truck taking the Roller away."
By the time he emigrated to Australia in '84 Bugner was, he told me, "basically penniless."
Boxing is a brutal, demanding way to earn a living. Some of the people who manage and promote it are basically sharks in expensive suits. Not all, but many of the boxers I've encountered are surprisingly kind-hearted souls. That's why I sincerely hope that a lot of the astronomical money touted for Joshua (a reported $70 million) and Ruiz ($20 million) will actually end, and stay, in their pockets.