While the professionals were not able to rouse the packed Springvale Stadium crowd too loudly at Saturday night’s Flava Rise of the Fallen card, the enthusiastic local amateurs on the undercard had already stolen the show with some very entertaining three-round brawls.
After Akiwa Events had worked hard to turn the home of Wanganui basketball into a gladiatorial arena with the ring set-up and lighting presentation, several of the first-timers in the corporate bouts were lapping up the atmosphere.
Tech Rugby’s Ian Filo made sure his opening bout with Marist’s Thomas Nepia would not go to the scorecards as he put Nepia down to a knee in the second round and had to be pulled away by the referee.
Nepia got dropped again at the end of the round, with his corner deciding he had had enough during the break.
Pirates’ Faalafi Taito and Kaierau’s Areta Lama learned just how draining the fight game can be as they went hard over three two-minute rounds, leaving both men with hands on knees at the end as Taito was awarded a split decision.
The Pirate had come hard out of the blocks to drag Lama into a slugfest, and earned a standing eight count after getting through a series of strikes.
Lama came back with a couple of combinations in round two before he was muscled to the ropes, a pattern which continued in the final round.
In the battle of Loaders versus Bullocks, most expected the older Gary O’Neil to struggle against the younger and taller Bradley Kendal, but O’Neil went through the longer jab to unload with vicious body blows with both hands, leaving Kendal to take an eight count.
Both men started winging shots at each other’s heads in round two, making little attempt to cover up. O’Neil was looking strong until Kendal buckled him right down to his toes with a hard blow for a standing eight count of his own.
They kept going at each other, to the point of falling over in the grapples, right to the final bell, with O’Neil gaining the unanimous decision.
After Clare Lynch had withdrawn following Friday’s weigh-ins with a medical condition, Silver Fern Farms’ Sheryl Bennett found herself going through potential replacements, as first Angelica McGuckin was announced as substitute, then Feilding’s Renz Ratima took the fight on only a few hours’ notice.
Bennett looked confident but was soon frustrated as Ratima not only held her own but began to score heavily.
By the second round, the newcomer had found her range, off-loading with some big rights and lefts, leading first to a standing eight count and then the referee waving it off when the pounding resumed.
A crowd which had been pumping by this point, proceeded to lose their minds for the battle of the bar girls as Emily Kara (Riverside) and Jennifer Alston (Stellar) proceeded to tear the house down.
Kara went all out from the bell with both hands, pummelling the shocked Alston so hard that she was spinning around.
But in her eagerness coming forward, Kara misstepped just as Alston landed a desperate counterpunch and she hit the canvas, basically giving Alston the round by virtue of a knock down.
Alston looked to carry on with it in round two with some quick jabs, before Kara went back to the windmill action to score non-stop on her taller opponent’s head.
Both girls had their hands up to start round three, but that did not last long as Kara rocked the fading Alston’s head back several times, resulting in a standing eight count, before both girls slugged away until the bell.
Kara leapt into the air as she was awarded the split decision.
Gallivanting around was Affco’s Alo Tafilipepe’s problem in his super heavyweight slug fest with Cavalier Spinners William Kabakaba, who had played a full premier club rugby game only hours before.
Playing to the crowd, Tafilipepe starting shucking and jiving like Muhammad Ali, but the more humble prop Kabakaba calmly came forward and spun him around with a hard right, earning a standing eight count.
Kabakaba came back in for more blows and despite Tafilipepe’s consternation, the referee decided enough was enough.
The final corporate fight of the evening was the battle of the big executives as event co-organiser and HoopNation representative KJ Allen tangled with Sport Wanganui chief executive Danny Jonas.
In the battle of the bosses, Jonas and Allen both exhibited proper techniques, Allen moving well despite coming into the match with a leg injury.
But by round three, Jonas was well ahead on the scorecards, having scored frequently over the previous four minutes, and jabbed his way to a unanimous decision.
By Jared Smith – Wanganui Chronicle