Elliott hungry for heavy knockout punch

LIAM NAPIER
Last updated 05:00 15/12/2012
KRISSY DWYER/Fairfax NZ

Instead of brawling, Chiefs hooker Hika Elliot wants to do something else when fighting Cronulla captain Paul Gallen at Fight for Life.

Hika Elliott
Getty Images
COMING TO BLOWS: Paul Gallen, left, and Hika Elliot at the Fight For Life weigh-in yesterday.

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If you enjoy a punt and haven't already, throw a few dollars on Hika Elliot in tonight's Fight For Life.

This is much more than a charity boxing event to the All Blacks hooker.

This is an arena he craves.

Elliot's burning desire to knock out Australian rugby league hardman Paul Gallen has been bubbling close to the surface for some weeks.

At Auckland's Trusts Stadium, his tension is set to boil over.

Sixteen-ounce gloves and headgear make a clean knockout difficult but that doesn't faze Elliot.

He is promising three fast and furious two-minute rounds.

"I know that's what everyone wants to see," Elliot said of delivering a thundering blow.

"A lot of pride is on the line.

"It's man versus man; mana versus mana; code versus code.

"I really want to put on a good performance that I can be happy with. I've put in a lot of work and I'm going to let my actions speak for themselves."

The apparent mismatch of self-confessed "pudgy" Olympic rowing gold medallist Eric Murray and lean-looking Warriors wing Manu "The Beast" Vatuvei has captured most headlines, but don't miss the Elliot and Gallen match-up. It should be the fight of the night.

Most competitors in these events are rookies.

Footy players can swing and take a punch but often lack natural boxing footwork and head movement.

It will soon be clear if Elliot is more than mere scrapper.

The Hawke's Bay rake is battle-hardened. More than 60 karate fights, a black belt in that discipline and kickboxing experience is the proof.

"It's going to be tough for Paul," three-time Australian boxing champion boxer turned trainer Jeff Fenech said.

"When I've watched Hika train he's got some ring nous. That always helps with the confidence.

"He's on the same floor as me at the hotel and he's been training every day. He's here to do a job.

"He's got power. To look at him, you know he can fight."

Four years after his last scheduled fight, Elliot wants blood.

You can smell his hunger.

"I know the feeling that comes across you when you get in the ring and I'm really keen to get that feeling back. When you step in and you're eyeing each other up, it's only you in there," he said.

"I'm eager; I'm ready. I've got the fire in the belly."

Gallen realises what he is about to confront - Elliot left no room for speculation after declaring he would leave the Blues captain face down on the canvas this week.

"It's given me some motivation and made me a bit more prepared because he came out and said he wants to knock me out, so we'll see what happens," Gallen said.

"I've got the opportunity to be knocked out on the footy field each week. This is a different environment, so we'll see how I react when he starts throwing punches on me."

But the combative Sharks leader is also realistic about whatever the outcome might be.

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"If I lose tomorrow night, I'm not all of a sudden going to be a shit footy player and if I win, I'm not going to be unstoppable." 

- Fairfax Media

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