Aussie league star Paul Gallen kept his unbeaten record with a majority points decision against All Blacks loose forward Liam Messam in the Fight For Life boxing at Trusts Stadium in West Auckland.
Gallen was making his second Fight for Life appearance in a year after beating Chiefs and All Blacks hooker Hika Elliot with a unanimous points decision last year.
Messam was backing up as well, comfortably outpointing Wendell Sailor last year.
This was a tough contest between two fighters able to give and take punches.
Gallen worked the body well to dominate the first round but Messam upped his game in the second round.
And the All Black stayed on the front foot in the third round, taking the game to Gallen who withstood a lot of punishment and somehow came away with a victory that didn't go down well with the crowd.
"That was a lot tougher than the first one, that's for sure," Gallen said of his second win.
"He really came at me in that third round. I knew this was going to be tough and Liam proved that tonight."
Messam said he found Gallen hard to tag and lamented his short preparation with this fight coming hard on the heels of an unbeaten year with the All Blacks.
"He has some pretty awesome skills," Messam said. He was in my face all the time."
BATTLE OF THE CRICKETERS
Earlier, Chris Cairns put his current troubles behind him to win the battle of the cricketers, scoring a unanimous points victory over Simon Doull.
The two former Black Caps team-mates and Fairfax cricket columnists put on a lively show that was well-received by the large crowd.
Cairns, unsuspectingly dragged into a match fixing investigation by the International Cricket Council that he strenuously denies, clearly had a bit of anger about him in the ring.
Both fighters, evenly matched in height and weight, came out with an aggressive approach, providing a lively opening round.
Doull, coming into the fight on short notice, looked like his gas tank was emptying in the second round though he still managed to land some good blows amongst some busy work from Cairns.
There wasn't too much action in the third round with the pace telling on both cricketers but Cairns clearly had an edge as he stalked Doull.
Cairns, the great allrounder, was quick to acknowledge Doull, simply for turning up.
"It's a big thank-you ... there have been other things going on this week and Simon could have decided not to come along, but he did," Cairns said.
"This is the most demanding sport I've ever encountered."
Doull, was happy despite the result.
"I absolutely enjoyed it but Cairnsy was better on the day." The judges ruled it a draw but it was a personal victory for Stephen McIvor's boxing perseverance in the Fight For Life event tonight.
THAIDAY TOO STRONG
Following Cairns' win, Australian league star Sam Thaiday scored a unanimous points decision against giant Chiefs rugby prop Ben Tameifuna.
Both fighters were making their boxing debuts and displayed good skills for novices.
Tameifuna, coming in at 144kg for a massive 31kg weight advantage, chose not to wear headgear.
There were decent jabs and strong right hands from both in an even first round with Tameifuna showing good movement and hand-speed.
Thaiday, the Broncos, Queensland and Kangaroos second-rower, started to find his range in the second round but couldn't damage Tameifuna.
But he was regularly picking up points and kept that up in the third round to convince the judges.
"I'm very happy to win and very happy it's over," Thaiday said. "It was the hardest thing I've ever done ... very tough work.
REDEMPTION FOR MCIVOR
In the opening fight Sky TV presenter Stephen McIvor, a two-time loser in his previous efforts at this charity event, went the distance with Fairfax journalist Steve Kilgallon and had the honour of flooring his opponent.
But that still couldn't' give him victory on the controversial scorecards.
McIvor returned from a 10-year absence from the ring and just to see out a round was a win in his eyes.
To go three was a bonus and to have his opponent on the canvas was a proud moment.
His previous two bouts had ended in first round knockout losses.
The crowd made their feelings known, believing McIvor had been the winner.
Kilgallon, wearing head gear more resembling a full-face motorcycle helmet, was the busier fighter in the first round but McIvor, with a 12kg weight advantage, landed the better big shots.
McIvor produced the big shot of the fight late in the second round with a great right to Kilgallon's head that dropped him to the canvas. To his credit Kilgallon got up to see out the round.
The final round featured plenty of work from both boxers with, again, McIvor, seeming to land the better blows.
"I'm feeling pretty good," a buoyant McIvor said after the bout.
"It wasn't a loss and that's the difference. And the fight got called by the best commentator in the game in Colonel Bob Sheridan.
"I want to thank my trainer Monty Betham ... he's had me in some pretty dark places in the last few weeks. I was pretty scared seven days ago."
Kilgallon was gracious to McIvor: "He did really well, fair play to him."
- © Fairfax NZ News