Give yourselves an uppercut

IAN ANDERSON
Last updated 16:05 15/06/2012

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OPINION: Idiotic. Self-aggrandizing. Insolent. 

And then there's Jesse Ryder.

The news that the part-time Black Caps batsman will fight Radio Sport host Mark Watson in a boxing bout next month had me checking the calendar to see if it was the start of April, rather than the onset of winter.

It seems the intended clash is real, which left me as staggered as those who watched Manny Pacquiao hammer Timothy Bradley last weekend only to see Bradley named the victor.

No good can come of this clash, and that's without caring who ''wins'' the fight.

A member of the sports media should not be getting into the ring with a sportsperson.

Ryder initially challenged former Black Cap and current TV commentator Craig McMillan to step into the ring, angered by criticism McMillan aimed at Ryder during the past summer.

Fortunately, McMillan was sensible enough not to rise to the petty invitation.

Unfortunately, Watson has failed to do the same, saying: ''I'm just a keen sportsperson looking for a challenge in a different sport.''

That's disingenuous at best, nonsense at worst.

''I need to push myself in something. It's really about me versus me.''

No it's not. In the public eye it's a grudge match, despite Watson's thin claims to the contrary.

''I thought hard about this but concluded it's easy for talkshow hosts to be accused of hiding behind the mike,'' he added.

It's not hiding Mark, it's where you belong, doing your job responsibly.

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Watson could argue that he's a subjective sports radio host, rather than a jobbing journalist, therefore doesn't need to have the objectivity we require.

But his job has to have a distance that allows him to reasonably evaluate  Watson is quickly proud to point out he rarely associates with sportspeople and administrators and refuses to ride the gravy train  and swinging punches at those you cover from three feet away doesn't allow that.

Ryder has said boxing fits his rehabilitation plan as attempts to get his life on and off-the-park back together again after a string of high-profile misdemeanours.

Boxing training is an excellent way to improve fitness  something Ryder badly needs  and discipline, but his sparring should be kept in-house and he should continue his work on reducing body fat while learning to grow thicker skin.

A number of sportsmen seem to produce the ''they've never done it'' defence when under fire from the media, arguing that until you've faced 150km bowling, been at the bottom of a ruck or climbed the Col du Tourmalet that you're not qualified to voice or write an opinion.

Funny then how many of them are lining up post-retirement for a job on the mike or writing columns.

Yet they've never gained a degree, trained in the media field, worked their way up through menial but important tasks that teach you how to hone your craft, spent years asking questions, researching, listening, reading.

Ok, that's my one-two punch right there. Kapow.

Also, Kiwi sports fans need to lose this obsession with celebrity boxing bouts when a recent report showed ACC figures here that the cost of total injuries from the boxing and kick-boxing tallied close to $2.5 million in 2010-11.

(Whoops, I went all Richard Boock on you there for a moment).

 

Boxing at the highest level is already quite capable of feeding us enough material to make it a laughing stock without the inappropriate circus acts.

The ludicrous decision in favour of Bradley threw further fuel onto an already roaring fire that the code is rife with fixing.

The conspiracy theory du jour was that promoter Bob Arum, who has both combatants in his Top Rank stable, wanted a Bradley win to force a rematch later this year that will allow him to scoop the profits, rather than share them with another promoter.

Arum vehemently denied this in the aftermath  while at the same time admitting a rematch would make him a bucketload of money,

''That decision was just ridiculous. If those judges want to see an eye specialist I've got a good one I can recommend,'' Arum said.

''People look and say that the HBO announcers are schmucks because they had it [11 rounds to 1 for Pacquiao]. I'm watching the fight so I must also be a schmuck because I had it 11-1.

''But these judges somehow scored it differently. Nobody likes to be a schmuck.''

Another possible reason that Pacquiao lost despite CompuBox showing he connected on 253 punches to Bradley's 159  with a 63-51 advantage in jabs and 190-108 in power punches  is that two members of the juding trio were incompetent.

C.J. Ross and Duane Ford, who each scored the fight 115-113 for Bradley, are aged 71 and 74 respectively.

While there's respected surgeons still operating in their eighth decade, many of us may be hugely hesitant to put our lives in their hands.

So what faith would you have in septugenarians entrusted with spotting rapid-fire jabs?

I'm 44 and already spend far too much time searching for my reading glasses  only rarely while wearing them  and trying to figure out where I left my car keys.

I'm sure by the time I'm in my 70s I'll be wondering why I can't taste my soup with my fork while putting my pants on over my head.

But I'll stay out of the boxing ring. Nobody likes to be a schmuck.

- Waikato

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