Fight For Life's all-gold bout
Thursday 13 December 2012 1:06 PM
The Beast, all gleaming gold-filled teeth, is nervously ready to rumble against gilt-edged Olympic and world champion rower Eric Murray in boxing’s Fight For Life at Waitakere’s Trusts Stadium on Saturday night. Photo: Photosport.
Powerhouse Vodafone Warriors winger Manu Vatuvei, typically hulking in physical presence, has come down from his playing weight – which has varied from around 109kg to 112kg plus – to become a mean, lean fighting machine at 106kg.
The club’s 26-year-old try-scoring record holder says he doesn’t remember being this light since his days at Sir Edmund Hillary College.
For the best part of two months now he has subsisted on, or more accurately endured, a cross-training diet based on a demanding output with the Vodafone Warriors while also being brutally tuned up by former team-mate Monty Betham at Boxing Alley. To say he has been working hard barely does justice to the workload The Beast has experienced – but he likes how he feels in his new skin and observers have been left utterly impressed by the transformation.
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For the past week Vatuvei’s training and preparation has been limited to boxing as he has been freed up from football duties to focus on his bout with Murray; the much-decorated Olympian is slightly taller than Vatuvei and has had the help of All Black Liam Messam in his build-up (Messam was impressive in last year’s Fight For Life).
Vodafone Warriors head coach Matthew Elliott exempted Vatuvei from the team’s arduous three-day camp on Whangaparaoa Peninsula last week (when sleep and food deprivation were high on the list) and he hasn’t been involved in this week’s mix of training and work in the Otara community. Being his hometown, Vatuvei has clearly missed the opportunity, evidenced by the nature of his comments on Twitter.
He hasn’t been totally off-duty with the Vodafone Warriors, though. Along with Konrad Hurrell, Dane Nielsen and Carlos Tuimavave, he was on hand and very much on show for club sponsor Bendon’s VIP event at its Newmarket store on Tuesday night. He was pampered at the men’s grooming stations and also lined up in the modelling parade.
Vatuvei won’t want for backing at Trusts Stadium on Saturday night. The entire NRL squad will be there supporting him on a night when fellow rugby league players Jarrod McCracken, Paul Gallen, Greg Bird and Willie Mason are also on the card. They’re all fighting in support of the Prostate Cancer Foundation.
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