Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Jarrod McCracken Vs Carlos Spencer

Fight For Life Fighters of 2012

Not normally do we see our high profile celebrity's, enabling an everyday sporting stadium to host a coliseum type event, where us mere mortals ferociously chant and shout for a knockout victory.
Michelle McCracken on the Red Carpet

Well I guess we do see these legendary boys, our idols step into an arena of battle on numerous occasions, although it's not to pain stakingly pound the living hell out of each other in a boxing ring amidst 5,000 spectators draped in suits, evening attire and glasses clinking to the formalities of being wined, dined and entertained.

Then their is media crew desperately trying to capture every little fast paced snap of these sheer and pure strength like gladiators to play host to the 'pay to view' spectators that missed out on one of the sell out tickets.

'Fight for Life' an elaborate celebrity, charity event of League V's Union 'boxing' is back with a vengeance when it took to the stage at 'Trusts Stadium' in Auckland New Zealand on December 15th 2012. The event also helps raise money and portrays to men that prostate cancer, if identified early enough, is a curable disease and prevention is now as simple as a blood test.

Jarrod McCracken & Wendell Sailor at the Watermark Fundrasing Luncheon
Lets take it back to approximately 8 weeks prior to the initial event.
Event promoter Dean 'Cowboy' Lonergan, ex league player with his assistant and event coordinator, Carlena who does a fantastic job, were in contact to snag each individual high profile player past and present. Their intention? To create entertainment like never before while raising money for a reputable charity.  This years Fight for Life was going to be enormous and with MMA and the Boxing world growing trendier by the day, before they knew it, the showdown was created.

Daniella Smith Vs Lauren Eagle
In order on the night was;             
- Lauren Eagle V's Daniella Smith (Victory to Smith a hard doer, who at 40 years old covered well and had Eagle backing up. Would have been a close decider)
- Greg Bird V’s Rene Ranger (Victory to Bird, even though Ranger knocked Bird to the ground twice which landed him a 2 point deduction)
Paul Gallen Vs Hika Elliot

- Manu Vatuvei V's Eric Murray the New Zealand Olympic gold medalist (Victory to Manu Vatuvei although Eric Murry didn't do to bad considering the bagging he gave himself prior to the fight)

- Paul Gallen V's Hika Elliot (Victory to Paul Gallen. Hika found his opponent was like hitting a brick wall that fought back, both fighters did well)
Jarrod McCracken applies the pressure to opponent Carlos Spencer

- Jarrod McCracken V’s Carlos spencer (Victory to Carlos Spencer, definitely the most adrenalin packed fight of the night that had the crowd on the edge of there seats)
Willie Mason Vs Troy Flavell showing the heart of true rugby stars
 - Willie Mason V's Troy Flavell (drawing after Willie earlier, put him through the ropes and gestured from behind he was going to give it to him doggy style…had to laugh)

I guess each celebrity signed up for there own individual reasons, whether it be the challenge, a goal, their ego, or to support a family member and the prostate cancer cause.

The likes of our Jarrod McCracken, this year, didn't hesitate to sign up, nor did he underestimate his potential when he decided to raise and donate his own '$38 thousand' to the prostate cancer foundation. His father Ken McCracken, another old time league great, severely battles with the disease, so Jarrod put the gloves on and stepped into the ring with no hesitation for the cause and help support his father, who couldn't make it across the Tasman from Australia to support his son.

Sitting at the team McCracken table, it was very emotional and upsetting to see Jarrod's sister Carmel sitting there silent and motionless with tears welling in her eyes and rolling down her face when the rest of the crowd had literally erupted standing and screaming with the most deafening shrieks of enthusiasm. She was witnessing her brother they call 'crackers' 42 years old, go up against a much younger and experienced at boxing, union legend Carlos Spencer.
It crushed her to know her father was not sitting there with her to support and cheer Jarrod on for what he was doing. We clearly saw the emotions for the McCracken family ran quite deep, which to the general public would be rather oblivious.

Jarrod McCracken prior to learning the news of a broken neck
Jarrod an ex Kiwi league captain was known for his brutality on the field before breaking his neck in 2000, but nothing & nobody could really prepare him to step into the ring in 8 weeks. In reality would anybody be crazy enough to go up against Carlos Spencer who had initially fought in the last fight for life, drew with his opponent and was on a mission, with a years training under his belt & two fights in South Africa to come back & prove to his supporters that King Carlos doesn't draw.

Jarrod, once he had initially signed on the dotted line, quickly accessed his fitness calibre and realised, to even be half a show against Carlos, he now had literally 7 weeks to shape up. Jarrod never doubted his ability to fight, because after all, he was the boy from west Auckland, who grew up knowing how to take care of himself, brawling and fighting was part of life. Only difference was, Jarrod's fights of yester-years, sported a no rules attitude.
Jarrod say's, 'you would do whatever you had to do to and I would always make sure I came out on top, but it was far from boxing.'
McCracken with trainer Brian Pierson
His trainer Brian Pierson, whom Jarrod seeked out in his hometown of Townsville, had a job on his hands: to teach Jarrod how to box. Brian an ex strong man and mui thai fighter and from what I hear, just as hardcore and crazy as Jarrod, set out his training schedule to make the most of the minimal weeks they had up there sleeve.
The weekends out drinking with mates, eating whatever he wanted and his normal maintenance of a few gym sessions a week had to drastically change. Instead his training turned into a grueling twice a day programme, a boxing session in the morning and fitness training in the afternoon. Jarrod's previous weight sessions took a back seat during the weeks ahead as Brian had assessed Jarrod's strength was already supernatural for someone his age and fitness would be his first priority if he was going to go up against a much younger Carlos Spencer who was also rumoured to have the assistance of steroids on his side.

Jarrods son watches on as training begins
The majority of people hearing these odds stacked against them would have 'not so politely’ declined the offer, unlike Cracker's who said he was happy to give it a go. Bookies instantly had Carlos Spencer as the favourite, although Jarrod was turning up to fight with his own agenda and in the weeks leading up organised and held two separate luncheons and auctions to raise as much money as he could for Prostate Cancer.

Jarrod tells us the first week of training was that grueling he doubted his 7 week foresight. He was in his garage with one of his mates on the pads and him on the mitts slogging out to what seemed like an eternity for sets of two, one minute rounds of overs and unders, with his kids watching on.

Fight night came around quickly and I must say, hearing the babble amongst surrounding spectators on the night, enthusiasm and anticipation ran high to see these two warriors collide in combat.

Nothing could have prepared the crowd, or even Carlos Spencer for that matter when the referee gave his usual spiel, 'touch gloves, return to your corners and come back fighting.

Both McCracken and Spencer did return to there corners, although McCracken declined Spencer's gesture of touching gloves again and came at Carlos like a raging bull, a man totally possessed and reliving his child hood all over again.
What ever he had learnt from his trainer in the past 7 weeks, went straight out the door, the only thing McCracken didn't put into practice was biting, kicking or just picking Spencer up and throwing him over the ropes…….well even that was debatable at times. Carlos was definitely rattled by the onslaught and did his best to cover up, at one stage even turning on his opponent and running for the corner with Jarrod unleashing his fury to the back of Spencer's head.

Jarrod McCracken Vs Carlos Spencer - the fight that made the crowd roar
Famous fight caller Bob Sheridan screamed….this is war!!! 
Not only was it a war, he now witnessed Jarrod live up to his nickname team mates had labeled him with during his football days…..'Crackers'.

The second round couldn't have come quick enough for Spencer, he had a few seconds to wonder, what the hell just happened, gather himself together and get back out there, step up to McCracken and play the game.

Crackers backs his opponent Spencer into the ropes
Spencer didn't like, the first round upset by McCracken, nor did he like the second, McCracken eventually started to show he wasn't a killing machine and he wasn't going to last the distance, although he frustrated Spencer by tying him up constantly on the ropes. Spencer was getting annoyed, he was there to show people he could box and it wasn't until the third round that King Carlos's boxing talent really got to shine through. McCracken at 42 and only 7 weeks of training had no gas left in the tank and all he could do was hold off his well trained opponent.  After all Spencer didn't do 12 months of boxing training beforehand, and have two fights in South Africa, to turn up on the night to be embarrassed…… and that he didn't.

The judges eventually announcing a close Victory to Carlos Spencer.

The next day seen the boys having lunch together and Carlos sporting a nice shiner to remember this years 2012 "Fight for Life" as for Crackers, when asked if their was any aches or pains, any regrets or if he was going to give it another crack next year, he shrugs and say's no to the 3 questions asked.

Joseph Parker takes on Richard Tutaki

Greg Bird Vs Rene Ranger

Eric Murray (Olympian fighting for rugby) V Manu Vatuvei
The tables ready on arrival to the event