Ex-Rugby League star Manu Vatuvei says boxing venture ‘no experiment’

Ringside 15/11/2018

Former Rugby League star Manu Vatuvei is not playing around in his bid for boxing honors.

‘The Beast’ makes his pro debut on the undercard of Joseph Parker’s comeback fight in December.

Known as one of the NRL’s toughest players for over a decade, Vatuvei has previous experience in the boxing ring. He defeated Olympic rowing champion Eric Murray in a corporate bout in 2012.

The 32-year-old, who tipped the scales at 112kg during his league playing days, scored 152 tries for the Warriors in 226 NRL appearances.

Vatuvei will now attempt to join the likes of Anthony Mundine, Paul Gallen, Solomon Haumono, Monty Betham and Sonny Bill Williams in the ranks of rugby and league players to forge successful careers in professional boxing.

“I still feel I’ve got a lot to offer as a professional athlete and I’ve always loved boxing,” says Vatuvei.

“This is no experiment. I am seriously considering a long-term contract in Australia.

“I’d like to finish my sporting career with a decent crack at becoming an accomplished professional boxer.

“I definitely see myself dedicating the coming years to the sport and seeing where it takes me.

“This fight is a tough start to my career and a huge challenge. But I’m confident I’m up to it.”

Vatuvei has enlisted elite striking coach Lolo Heimuli – whose charges include Mark Hunt, Shane Cameron and Ray Sefo – to prepare him for the fight.

“Manu has a huge amount of natural talent,” Heimuli says. “It’s very exciting to be working with him.”

The fight gives Vatuvei a chance to avenge the defeat of his brother ‘Horse’, who was beaten by Letele in the ‘Brown Buttabean’s’ first ever boxing match on the undercard of Parker’s victory over Brian Minto.

Other highlights include:

  • Canterbury star Bowyn Morgan – Current IBO Asia Pacific super welterweight champion
  • New Zealand Cruiserweight showdown – David Light (NZ #1) – Former Commonwealth silver medalist, takes on “Buster” Lance Bryant (NZ #2).
  • Megan McLennan faces current NZ Muay Thai champion Michaela Jenkins in a five-round professional contest for the PRO Box NZ Woman’s Welterweight Championship