When Jeff Garnett landed on a trophy at Saturday night's Carrus Lord of the Ring charity boxing event at the TECT Arena, it wasn't quite what he had in mind.
The 57-year old real estate agent, the oldest fighter of the 22 corporate boxing contestants, lost his balance, falling through the ropes and ending up sprawled across the timekeeper's and MC Howard Dobson's desk after taking a flurry of punches from his opponent, financial planner Josh Hoskin.
Hoskin was 21 years his junior.
The crowd roared "Go Jeff" but the referee called a stop to the fight 17 seconds into round two. Despite losing to Mr Hoskin, Mr Garnett became the darling of the black tie audience. Afterwards he joked, "I was training for hockey really, it's a tough sport," said Garnett.
"I think I might take up cage fighting or something easier next year."
This drama, bravery and good spirits were replicated in all of the 11 corporate fights of three two-minute rounds. They were closely fought, producing five split decisions by the judges, which MC Howard Dobson declared, "a record for a corporate event".
The amateur bouts featured a wide range of athletic abilities and ages, but the one constant throughout the night's programme was all 22 boxers had clearly put their heart and soul into a solid eight week's training under the guidance of the team at Tga Box.
All the boxers were capable of lasting the distance and the odd bloody nose aside, no harm was done.
The winners of the 11 corporate challenges won $1000 to give to a charity of their choice.
The four female fights were eagerly anticipated and the combatants showed they had taken plenty of notice from their trainers, with solid technique standing out in all the bouts.
The best was the final female fight between Jules Bourke and Bay of Plenty Times media consultant Deb Batkins. With a clear height and reach advantage, Batkins was able to keep her energetic opponent at arm's length and landed some big swinging rights in the final round.
Dobson said in his 30 years watching boxing he has never seen a left and right simultaneous jab before, which Batkins used to good effect.
Batkins was one of the older fighters at 47 but wanted this to be an inspiration for others to go out and achieve a goal.
"I wanted to prove at 47 that I can do this. I chose Foundation for Youth Development, Bay of Plenty, to show kids to believe in yourself, then do it."
The battle of the supermarket managers was another highlight, with Pak'n Save Papamoa's Rob McGregor defeating Allan Rudkin from New World Mount Maunganui in a tight decision.
McGregor's entry to the ring dressed in his family kilt and following a lone piper was easily the best of the night but it was the gutsy Rudkin who took out the Lord of the Ring belt for the boxer who attracted the most text messages of support.
Among all the amateurs doing their best to imitate the Muhammed Ali videos of their youth, Tauranga's New Zealand super middleweight champion Gunnar Jackson had a rare appearance in front of his home crowd against South Auckland journeyman Moses Ioelu.
Jackson thrilled the crowd with a masterclass of fast hands, lightening footwork and punching combinations to overwhelm Ioelu, but despite seemingly out on his feet at the end, the big Samoan refused to go down.
Ioelu is a rare commodity in pro boxing in that he never had an amateur career and since joining the pro ranks five years ago aged 33, he has lost 30 and won three of his 33 fights.
Although Jackson was disappointed not to get the TKO he wanted, he was thrilled to fight in front of such a large crowd and said he would one day like to put his New Zealand and Pan Asia titles on the line back at the TECT Arena.
Adding Jackson to the bill was a masterclass from his trainer and co-organiser of the Lord of the Ring event Chris Walker, and everyone involved with the event deserved praise for such a well run evening.
The event raised $69,215 for the Waipuna Hospice in Tauranga.
- Nicolette Aldridge def Di Lewis split decision
- Ian Manley def Jake Crockford split decision
- Rob McGregor def Allan Rudkin unanimous
- Amy Porter def Ira Argent split decision
- Blair Cashmore def Anton Jones majority decision
- Lisa Parker def Kirt Richards unanimous
- Matt Paget def Tim Lockhart unanimous
- Josh Hoskin def Jeff Garnett TKO
- Deb Batkins def Jules Bourke unanimous
- Rob Moon def Simon Anderson split decision
- Johnny Mackay def Aaron Moores split decision
- Gunnar Jackson def Moses Ioelu unanimous