In claiming the lives of 670 New Zealand males a year, and being the most registered cancer in the country, prostate cancer is serious business. And just as the afflicted brave fight the disease with everything they have, so would the 14 combatants of the Woodstock Reserve Fight For Life. Taking themselves out of their chosen field of physical excellence and putting their health in harms way in order to selflessly pay tribute to sufferers while raising both awareness and funds.
Rather than being a simple vehicle for fund raising, this installment would also serve to answer a question heatedly slurred between two of New Zealand’s biggest fraternities; What is tougher? Rugby Union or Rugby League.
Although the results, in reality, lend little weight to the discourse, for the general public, it would scratch a curious itch as legends of union and league collided. Headlined by former world title contender Shane Cameron facing league icon Monty Betham, the card would also feature household names Wendell Sailor, Carlos Spencer and Christian Cullen.
West Auckland’s Trusts Stadium served as host to our best and beautiful (plus us media degenerates) as men donned tuxedos and women competed for our attention. Only random patches of the stands remained unoccupied as throngs steadily spilled inside and the anticipation and good times formed a thin fog that those in attendance fought to see through.
In the opening bout, former NZ Maori rep Slade MacFarland’s superior conditioning and punch output proved the deciding factor in his decision win over former Warrior’s ace Jerry Seuseu. These two juggernauts set a fast opening pace with MacFarland landing right hands and having the better timing.
Both threw caution to the wind in the second, planting their feet and exchanging heavy shots however the pace would prove more than Seuseu could handle as he began to tire and only throw single punches.
MacFarland pushed the pace further in the third, landing a good uppercut and generally outworking his foe to gain a unanimous judges nod.
Hayley Holt and Paige Hareb turned in a fierce fight of the night performance over three rounds. Holt’s advantages in size and reach were evident early and she displayed no duty of care toward her manicurist as she dished out huge right hands forcing the referee to administer a pair of standing eight counts.
Hareb’s determination was evident in the second as she manages to turn the fight. Bobbing and weaving into range she couldn’t miss with her left hook. All the pressure forces Holt to cover however she connects with a right hand near the end of the round backs off her opponent.
Both fighters left it all in the ring in an extremely competitive final round. Holt and Hareb exchange right hands and left hooks respectively and the final thirty seconds are combated like neither wants to lose. Unfortunately, a winner must be crowned in the match and Holt takes a unanimous decision on the back of her first round success.
Former All Black first five dynamo Carlos Spencer’s superb physical conditioning only afforded him a draw with dual league international Awen Guttenbeil. Spencer displayed good head movement in the first round as both tried to find their range. The fighters went toe to toe in the second round, with Guttenbeil’s success coming from boxing from the outside.
With Spencer being two rounds down going into the final stanza, he needed to find something special. This didn’t seem possible as Guttenbeil trapped him in the corner midway through the round. Then, seemingly with still some of that magic in his pockets, Spencer pulls an overhand right from behind his ear and unleashes it on Guttenbeil, who is given “the stanky leg” and is on a street that he doesn’t know the name of. As the referee attempts to step between the fighters, Spencer, overtaken by some kind of preternatural bloodlust, wings hooks that drops the ex Warrior and Kiwi on the seat of his pants. Guttenbeil is able to beat the count but was clearly relieved to hear the final bell.
Going into the feature bout, Shane Cameron’s team reasoned that their fighter would have nothing to gain. A fringe world title challenger beating a part timer proves nothing whilst a, unimaginable, loss would completely derail his fighting career. These notions would prove founded as Cameron lumbered to an uninspired decision win over Monty Betham.
The former Warriors hooker never displayed any kind of fear towards Cameron as he repeatedly gestured his foe to engage him. Cameron’s strategy was obviously to attack the body early however he seemed to lack any kind of foot or hand speed to catch up with Betham’s movement or crack his defense.
Betham’s only real offense came from flurrying out of clinches as he danced around the ring, played to the crowd and shook his head in denial when Cameron landed flush. Although entertaining, this approach is not the generally accepted way to win bouts.
The fight would devolve in the fifth round, as both refused to break from a clinch and continued to punch long after the referee’s order to cease. Despite advantages in every facet of the sport, and with five rounds of fatigue weighing on Betham, Cameron was unable to forge any dents as he continued to land hooks to the body and right hands.
By the end, the rambunctious crowd had been seduced by Betham’s antics and, despite on the wrong end of a wide decision, he was given applause for both lasting against a seemingly insurmountable foe and providing entertainment while doing so.
Although events like Fight For Life aren’t exactly like anything promoted by the Marquess of Queensberry, the boxing-entertainment provided circumstantial evidence to a societies inquisition while simultaneously raising awareness about towards, as well as helping to KO, one of our countries most prolific knockout artists. With efforts such as those of promoters Mammoth Events, with any luck, the referee will halt the bout sooner rather than later.
Slade MacFarland beat Jerry Seuseu by unanimous decision
Wairangi Koopu beat Matua Parkinson by unanimous decision
Hayley Holt beat Paige Hareb by unanimous decision
The bout between Carlos Spencer and Awen Guttenbeil was declared a split draw
Isaac Luke beat Christian Cullen by split decision
Liam Messam beat Wendell Sailor by unanimous decision
Shane Cameron beat Monty Betham by unanimous decisionNZFighters article found here