Lean 'Beast' prepared for 'tough' Murray in ring

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 13:14 14/12/2012
Eric Murray and Manu Vatuvei
Photosport

HEAVYWEIGHT CONTEST: Eric Murray and Manu Vatuvei go face-to-face during a press conference on Wednesday, before facing-off in the ring in the Fight For Life event on Saturday.

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A super-trim Manu Vatuvei was handing the mental advantage to Olympic champion rower Eric Murray as they weighed in for the Fight For Life boxing extravaganza in Auckland today.

That will be the only advantage Vatuvei needs to concede though as he looked in significantly better shape than his opponent.

Vatuvei will take a significant weight edge into the ring, too. He tipped the scales at 104.35kg with Murray logging 100.4kg, putting them well into the heavyweight class.

Vatuvei looked ripped, having lost around 6kg from his playing weight with the Warriors.

"Boxing and Warriors training have helped me shed the kilos," Vatuvei said. "When the season comes, I'll put it back on.

"I'm really looking forward to this. Eric is a tough bloke and he's also mentally tough."

Murray admitted to some nerves and fear but said it was all about channelling that.

"There's always an element of fear in anything you do. But you have to put your faith in your trainers."

Many are tipping the Hika Elliot vs Paul Gallen fight to be the best of the night. All Blacks hooker weighed in at 113.kg, almost 9kg heavier than Gallen, widely regarded as the toughest player in the NRL.

While the Fight For Life will benefit prostate cancer on the evening, there have been some personal touches with Kiwi great Jarrod McCracken handing over a cheque for $38,000 from personal fundraising on either side of the Tasman.

McCracken weighed in almost 10kg heavier than his opponent, former All Black Carlos Spencer who is returning for his second appearance in as many years.

Big Willie Mason lived up to his name, being the heaviest fighter on the card at 121.1kg.

On the professional side of the promotion, transTasman women rivals Lauren Eagle (Australia 59.9kg) and Daniella Smith (New Zealand 59.8kg), looked in great shape.

Eagle, the 24-year-old WBF super featherweight champion) is on a 3 fight unbeaten stretch.

Smith, the 40-year-old veteran, is a former IBF welterweight champion.

Smith is deadly serious about this assignment, believing victory could open the door to another world title opportunity.

"I'm going to bring it," Smith said at a weigh-in notable for its lack of trash-talk. There was more an air of nervousness about it, especially in the amateur ranks.

Richard Tutaki weighed in at 110.5kg for his pro heavyweight clash with highly touted youngster Joseph Parker (105kg).

"I haven't been 110kg for 10 years," a delighted Tutaki said, adding that he was relishing this opportunity to fight on a big stage.

"I like being the underdog, there's a lot of pressure on him (Parker). Anything can happen," Tutaki said.

FIGHT FOR LIFE FIGHT-CARD

Amateur bouts

Willie Mason 121.1kg vs Troy Flavell 114.5kg
Greg Bird 102.45kg vs Rene Ranger 98.8kg
Manu Vatuvei 104.2kg vs Eric Murray 100.4kg
Paul Gallen 104.35kg vs Hika Elliot 113.35
Jarrod McCracken 99.35kg vs Carlos Spencer 89.45kg

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Pro bouts

Lauryn Eagle 59.9kg vs Daniella Smith 59.8kg
Joseph Parker (105kg) vs Richard Tutaki 110.5kg

- Fairfax Media

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