Former Kiwis captain Jarrod McCracken might have landed the opening blow, but from then on he wanted nothing to do with Carlos Spencer.
As the former All Blacks playmaker went for the traditional touch of gloves before instigating battle, McCracken bypassed his gesture and laid into him.
Maybe the West Aucklander knew what Spencer was about to bring because it quickly became clear the lad from Levin had the power, purpose and precision combinations to caused a knockout blow.
Indeed, Spencer can box. Apart from McCracken's initial flurry, Spencer dominated from start to finish to claim a unanimous decision victory.
Had McCracken, the eldest competitor at nearly 42 years old, not constantly attempted defensive tactics on the ropes - frustrating the packed house that resorted to booing the former Kiwi centre - Spencer could have finished the job early.
Spencer, who was increasingly agitated by being tied up on the ropes, showed he enjoyed this arena last year when he floored Warriors Awen Guttenbeil.
Tonight he proved that was not once a one off. This was a far cry from starring in the Toffee Pops television commercial.
And it would not be a surprise to see him return from Johannesburg again next year.
On this performance, 'Los would be welcomed back with open arms.
PARKER VS TUTAKI
Speed and power confirmed Joseph Parker's rapidly rising heavyweight credentials tonight.
Two minutes into round three, Parker dropped Richard Tutaki with a huge uppercut after crumbling him with a crunching hit to the ribs in the second round.
The third victory of Parker's fleeting and undefeated professional career was easily his best.
Tutaki is no mug. With 22 wins he represented a big step up.
Parker, 14-years younger than his opponent, was on the front foot from the outset and never looked troubled by the durable but limited Tutaki, who spent almost the entire fight pinned to the ropes.
He worked the jab, Tutaki's body and put together fast and furious combinations. He was impressive; he had it all, though he wasn't tested defensively.
Always in control Parker, crucially, didn't force the issue. His damaging blows created openings and he pounced when the time was right.
On this evidence the 20-year-old South Aucklander is the real deal. His new, long-term partnership with Duco Events and alterations to his training schedule appear to be having an immediate effect.
A bout with Sonny Bill Williams has been touted for next year.
The only question now is will Williams want to risk his reputation against this quality young prodigy - dubbed "the next big thing"?
Don't count on it.
Parker seems destined to make waves in the ring and is in another class to Williams.
MASON VS FLAVELL
Big boys equal big hits.
Willie Mason and Troy Flavell, the two heavyweights, slugged it out in the most evenly contested fight of the night.
And in the end, after several heavy haymakers, a draw was a fair result.
Their respective lack of fitness towards the end of the third and final round was understandable - there was no shortage of punches exchanged inside six minutes. This was action packed.
"We said we were going to get out here and bang and that's what we did," Mason said.
After taking the first round with some solid connections, Mason lost the headgear, his sting and moved away from the advice of his trainer, three-time Australian champion Jeff Fenech.
It took Flavell, now based in Bayonne, France, a while to get going but he shifted gears in the second round to rattle the Kiwi-born Australian.
The West Aucklander probably had the best of the closing stages but the big boppers were hard to split.
"I got rocked in the first round," Flavell admitted.
"First time in ring didn't know what to expect. I definitely won't give up my day job. Throwing a rugby ball around is a lot easier."
The draw means league takes the battle of the codes three wins to two.
MURRAY VS VATUVEI
Well done, Eric Murray.
So much for the self-confessed pudgy Olympic rowing gold medallist taking the beating of his life in tonight's Fight for Life.
Murray may not have set the ring on fire, but he held his own and took everything Warriors wing Manu Vatuvei had to offer through three rounds. That is no mean feat.
Stepping up when nobody else wanted to fight "The Beast" - for good reason - takes some guts.
Vatuvei cut a fearsome figure after dropping 6 kilograms to be in the best shape of his decade-long career at the Warriors.
Otara-raised Vatuvei was never going to lose and most expected Murray to go down in the opening round.
Yet Murray emerged from the unanimous points loss with credibility well in tact and respect soaring.
"Look at my muscles I've got nothing on that guy," he said after the fight.
"I had to use my fitness and I've learnt a lot. I've loved every minute of the training."
After a two tentative rounds where Murray adopted the "get in, get out" approach to good affect, the Cambridge world champion had to survive a ferocious final-round flurry with Vatuvei landing some fast and punishing blows to his body and head.
One more round might have spelt trouble, but Murray proved his character, tenacity and toughness off the water at Auckland's Trusts Stadium.
While he will be sore tomorrow, replays of his efforts against one of the biggest men to roam the league fields will ease the pain.
ELLIOT VS GALLEN
Well, well, well.
Turns out Hika Elliot couldn't back up his brash bravado.
It wasn't quite all show and no go, but not once did you sense NSW captain Paul Gallen would hit the deck, as the All Blacks hooker had proudly predicted.
In fact, Gallen had the better of this highly anticipated match-up and thoroughly deserved his unanimous decision.
"We come out here with an intention to box," Elliot said.
"I know it's for charity but we're competitive people and everybody hates to lose."
Elliot leapt in the ring and jumped around, showboating to the crowd showing supreme confidence as if he was born for this arena, before the referee called them to the centre of the ring.
But from the opening bell, it was clear Gallen had heeded Elliot's taunts and was ready to take him head on. He did just that, impressing with the toughness he is renowned for in the 13-man code.
No love was lost as the two sizeable opponents went toe-to-toe with some thundering blows landed.
After three rounds, there was no doubt the quiet Australian assassin was the victor.
"That was one of the toughest things I've ever done," the 31-year-old Gallen said.
"My legs were gone after round one. You're here on your own and the bloke over there is pretty big."
That's three zip to league.
RANGER VS BIRD
Nothing like a bit of controversy to spark a charity boxing event.
Rene Ranger was only too happy to oblige in tonight's second Fight for Life scrap.
In the second of three rounds, the former All Black copped a decent punch from Kangaroos enforcer Greg Bird and referee Lance Revill stepped in to check on proceedings. Bird dropped his guard and Ranger retaliated, catching him flush and leaving the unaware NSW forward no doubt regretting his decision not to wear the headgear.
The unsuspecting shot caused a massive uproar from Bird's corner with three-time Australian champion Jeff Fenech kicking up stink during a three-minute delay as Bird attempted to shake off the powerful shot.
Whangarei-raised Ranger was deducted two points and it probably cost him the fight.
While Bird went on to claim the majority points decision in a brutally entertaining fight, Ranger landed most of the lusty blows. His overhand right was lethal.
Bird produced one flurry in late in the second round which brought gushing blood from Ranger's nose, but, otherwise, his street fighting style had him on the back foot.
At the conclusion of a fierce battled the crowd rose for a standing ovation. No-one was left questioning what will follow. These blokes are here for a brawl.
EAGLE VS SMITH
In the opening contest of tonight's Fight for Life in Auckland, the females went toe-to-toe.
Australian Lauren Eagle proved to Kiwi audiences that looks can, indeed, be deceiving.
The former world no.1 water skier and model turned boxer displayed surprising skills in the ring, though it wasn't enough to overcome New Zealand's former world IBF welterweight champion, Daniella Smith, who claimed a unanimous points decision,
There was, however, enough evidence to suggest Eagle has a genuine future in the sport.
Smith had Eagle backpedalling from the first of six rounds. The Sydneysider had a busy jab, telegraphed right hook and most of her punches were easily blocked by her more experienced opponent.
The 40-year-old Smith, who is hopeful of another title shot, made strong connections in the second, fourth, fifth and final rounds, rocking back Eagle's head with punishing right hooks and left jabs.
To her credit, Eagle took the blows well and never looked like going down.
While Eagle, who suffered the third loss in her ninth professional fight, might be satisfied with her efforts and fitness, the result was never in doubt.
Smith was the deserved winner and will attempt to kick on from here.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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