Eric Murray to face Vatuvei in Fight for Life

STEVE KILGALLON
Last updated 05:00 04/11/2012
Eric Murray
Lawrence Smith/Fairfax NZ
FACING THE BEAST: Olympic rowing gold medallist Eric Murray takes on league veteran Manu Vatuvei in Fight for Life.

Related Links

Fight for Life cause personal for Elliot Rene Ranger boxes on in the Fight for Life ABs boxing opponent wanted for Vatuvei

Relevant offers

Other Sports

Stewart blow for New Zealand White Sox Boxer Tyson Fury calls out top woman footballer Bardet, Van Garderen suffer as Rogers wins stage 16 Timing is everything for junior cyclist Kergozou Dean: 'A gutsy and impressive ride' from Bauer Nibali knows cycling's image is still recovering Former Southlander has 2020 Games vision Aussie boxer sees NY sights, before fight of life Pyeongchang Winter Olympics boss resigns Quiz: Test your sports knowledge - July 22

Eric Murray's wife had her doubts, and she didn't even know who Manu Vatuvei was.

The champion rower (previous fight experience, "a bit of scrapping" at Pukekoke High) told Jackie Murray a few weeks ago that he planned to sign on to meet the New Zealand Warriors league star, known as The Beast, at December's Fight for Life.

"She said ‘if you want to do it, you can do it'," he recounts, smiling broadly. "She actually had no idea who Manu was until she saw a picture of him when she googled, and then she said ‘oh well, he's probably going to give you a bit of a hiding'. I said ‘hopefully not'."

Vatuvei learned, accidentally, on Friday who his opponent would be and seemed unperturbed. Leaving Auckland's Boxing Alley gym after a session with trainer Monty Betham, he shook hands with Murray, arriving for a photoshoot, at the gym door.

Told he'd just met his opponent, Vatuvei said: "It's going to be tough. He's a big boy; I'll have to train hard to win this." Meanwhile, fight promoter David Higgins was telling his co-promoter Dean Lonergan on the phone: "That was a bit awkward."

But Higgins rallied to spruik Murray's chances against Vatuvei. "The call went out to various current All Blacks and several were keen and now are nowhere to be seen and Mr Murray put his hand up and said ‘I'd love to fight Manu Vatuvei'," he said.

In Murray's favour is his reputation as a phenomenally hard trainer and his appearance on a television show in 2006, hosted by the Amazing Race's Phil Keoghan which purported to find New Zealand's toughest man.

Murray beat a freezing worker, a bodybuilder, an Atlantic rower, a sheep shearer and former league international and four-time Fight for Life contender Mark "Horse" Bourneville.

The two met in the final event, when organisers tried to substitute wrestling for boxing in recognition of Bourneville's pugilistic experience, but Murray insisted on fighting.

Bourneville had the upper hand, but said Murray won everything else. "I always thought he would be good [for this]," said Bourneville.

"He's really well-balanced and he's big and strong. He has the biggest heart and the biggest engine in New Zealand . . . there's no question he will do the work. It's just how much boxing technique he can get in six weeks. I have mentioned my concerns to him . . . but he just shrugs his shoulders, he's unfazed."

Ad Feedback

Murray is well aware most money is likely to be on Vatuvei, who will weigh in about 10kg heavier. "I've got to take the luck element out of it and be bloody well prepared," he said.

"I am under no illusion what I've got to do. Technique gets you 90 per cent of the way, so as long as I can be pretty proficient, I think I might be able to hold my own. He looks a pretty fierce guy . . . bit I think I am a pretty hard man myself."

- Sunday Star Times

Comments

Special offers
Opinion poll

Of these accolades, which would you like to win most?

Football's golden ball

Commonwealth Games gold

US Open tennis title

World Cup of Darts

Tour de France yellow jersey

British Open golf title

Vote Result

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content