Woodstock Fight for Life League V Rugby
Embargoed until 11am, December 11th 2013
THE American standing in the way of Shane Cameron’s heavyweight aspirations is known as ‘The Beast’, and he’s ramping up the pressure on New Zealand’s Mountain Warrior.
Brian Minto is convinced he will have the edge in his Woodstock Fight for Life encounter on Saturday night, where some of the biggest names in rugby, league and cricket will provide the warm-up acts to his bout.
Minto’s confidence is high; While Cameron has been inactive for 388 days, he has fought six times in the same time frame.
“When the lights go on and you are alone in the ring with your opponent, you are as far away from sparring sessions as you can get,” Minto said.
“When you haven’t fought for so long, it can play on your mind.
“And when you have things on your mind in the ring other than what’s happening in front of you, pressure builds.
“And pressure bursts pipes…”
Cameron of course is unconcerned about his time out of the ring following his cruiserweight loss to Danny Green last November.
Indeed, he is in a buoyant mood because for the first time since his devastating win against Monte Barrett 17 months ago, he is fighting at his natural weight after three years of switching between the cruiserweight and heavyweight divisions.
“Being out of the ring for a year isn’t going to be a factor,” Cameron said ahead of the WBO Oriental Heavyweight Title fight. “What is a factor is that I am going in at my natural weight. I haven’t tried to get bigger and I haven’t had to try to get smaller. So I am comfortable. And when I am comfortable, I’m dangerous.”
While Cameron and Minto are the headline act at Auckland’s Trusts Arena, there will be just as much interest in the undercard.
The pick of those bouts is the clash between All Black Liam Messam and Cronulla and New South Wales skipper Paul Gallen.
Both have Woodstock Fight for Life experience - Messam defeated Wendell Sailor in 2011 while Gallen accounted for former All Black Hika Elliott last year.
Elliott – who has sparred with Messam through their mutual links at the Chiefs’ Super 15 franchise – is tipping the All Blacks flanker to get the ‘W’ at the weekend.
“Liam is pretty sharp in the ring.” Elliott said.
“It’s going to be a pretty good match up but Liam is more skillful – so I think he will come out on top.”
The other ‘rugby vs league’ clash sees another Chief – Ben Tameifuna – match up with Brisbane, Queensland and Kangaroos talisman Sam Thaiday.
‘Big Ben’ - who won a Super 15 rugby title with Messam earlier this year - will have a massive weight advantage over Thaiday. The Kiwi tips the scales at about 140kg compared to Thaiday 115kg.
Reports of Tameifuna’s power has reached the Kangaroo. Tameifuna broke the jaw of a sparring partner last week.
“I didn’t realize I was that strong,” Tameifuna said.
A massive spotlight too will be on the other big fight on the night – the bout between cricketers Simon Doull and Chris Cairns.
Cairns, who could have easily pulled out of the Woodstock Fight for Life given the other dramas going on in his life, has opted instead to front up and show support for the big night’s charity, KidsCan.
“I was never going to pull out of this event,” Cairns said. “I’m looking forward to the fight.”
In the nights other ‘celebrity’ bout, Sky Television frontman Stephen McIvor makes an emotional return to the ring. He famously lost his first two Woodstock Fight for Life fights when he was knocked out in the second round in 2003 and first round in 2004.
But he’s back and chasing personal redemption.
“For me this is about two things – supporting the charity and proving something to myself,” McIvor said.
“Anytime you get the chance to give something back to the community, you do it.
“And personally I just want to do a better job than the last times I boxed. I have put the work in. On Saturday we’ll find out if it has been worth it.”
WHAT: Woodstock Fight for Life 2013
DATE: Saturday 14 December 2013
VENUE: Trusts Arena, Auckland, New Zealand
BROADCAST: Live on Sky TV’s pay-per-view channel SKY ARENA from 7.00pm
General Admission tickets are on sale at www.ticketdirect.co.nz
Corporate Table tickets are on sale at www.duco.co.nz