Entertainment meets sport tonight like never before in a shrewd boxing extravaganza dreamt up by event promotion kings Dean Lonergan and David Higgins.
Lonergan and Higgins only combined powers last year, but already they're promising big things
"There will be 15 events over the next 18 months that are some of the biggest events this country has seen in the business of sport," Lonergan told onenews.co.nz last night.
And who would bet against them?
Higgins is the mastermind behind David Tua's and Shane Cameron's "Fight of the Century", which was the most successful pay-per-view-event in New Zealand history.
Lonergan, came up with the "Fight for Life" concept, and is a man who understands how easy it is to make a buck and lose one too.
The former Kiwi league international has been in the event promotion game for over 20 years and has seen the cookie crumble both ways.
But Lonergan came back with a vengeance last year with the second most successful pay-per-view event in New Zealand television history.
Fight for Life, which has had several reincarnations and - for the most part - pitted rugby and league athletes against each other, captured the imagination, but only to an extent. While it had celebrity, corporate and charity value, it lacked the killer edge to make it a bona fide sporting event.
Tonight at Sky City, they've hit the jackpot, literally.
"The Godfather of All Fight Nights", which is sponsored by some fast-food chain, combines the serious with the frivolous, the vicious with the sexy, the hype with the media, and at the end of the day, it's all designed for one thing and one thing only - your money.
"I don't care why people come in and watch this thing, so as long as they watch," Lonergan said. "We're in the business of entertainment and our job is to make this as entertaining as we possibly can.
"So it's sort of cross over between entertainment and boxing, and if we get it right, much bigger numbers come into watch both aspects of it, rather than just one or the other."
Those numbers won't be as big as the 85,000 units sold for the Tua-Cameron fight in 2009, but Lonergan, who could bank up to 50% of the profits with Higgins, is still expecting good numbers.
"We could do anywhere between 30,000 and 40,000 - who would know," he said. "We'll wait and see.
"I think we've had pretty damn good media in this. We've driven the media as hard as we possibly can and we just have to see how it goes."
And they have played the media/PR game to a tee.
Say what you want about an event that pits glamour girls Jaime Ridge, famous for nothing more than her brief fling with All Black Sonny Bill Williams, against flash-in-the-pan Rossana Arkle from TV's The GC, but the two boxing wannabes have given mainstream attention to this event it wouldn't have otherwise have got.
"We made a decision four or five weeks ago, after we'd announced the main fights, that we knew the media would dry up, and rather try and get into fighters that nobody really knew or cared about, we thought 'why don't we go down the celebrity route and get as much media as we possibly can'," Lonergan said.
Ridge, Arkle and badboy cricketer Jesse Ryder, who'll fight big-mouth radio host Mark Watson, are the celebrity figureheads Lonergan speaks of and according to a onenews.co.nz poll, he could be on to something.
As of last night, a poll of over 700 people said they were looking forward to the Ridge and Arkle bout the most.
Despite 40% of respondents thinking the whole event was a circus, 19% answered in the girls' favour, slightly ahead of the maincard fight of Monte Barrett and Shane Cameron, who had 18 % of the vote alongside Ryder and Watson.
"Well, that's fantastic to be bluntly honest," Lonageon said, when informed of the survey results.
"Last year, for the first time for Fight for Life, we had two women on - Paige Hareb and Haley Holt - and to be honest, they were the best fight of the night. If these girls come to the table with anything like Paige and Haley, we're in for a hell of an entertaining fight."
That much remains doubtful.
Both Holt and Hareb were or are top-class athletes of some note. TV host Holt use to be a professional snowboarder, while Hareb is a mainstay on the women's world surfing tour.
Ridge's only pedigree comes from her All Black/Kiwi father, Mathew. Arkle's sporting history, meanwhile, can be traced to the back pages of various men's magazines.
But if sporting purists do want some bang for their buck, the maincard between Barrett and Cameron, despite being a bit of a mismatch, should deliver if yesterday's antics at the weigh-in are anything to go by.
While their theatrics was all about driving the bottom line to the promoters' pocket, Barrett and Cameron have both said a loss here will all but end their careers.
"Everything is all about opportunities and how you take it, and how [much] you want it," Cameron (34) said yesterday, when asked how much the fight means to him. "It's all going to come down who wants it on the night."
When provoked by a mimicking Barrett, Cameron showed his first bit of aggression all week.
"[I want to] Shut this piece of s*** up right here," he said.
Barrett (41), articulate and capable of multiple personalities, is never one to take a backward step and his retort was blunt.
"F*** Shane and Ken [Reinsfield]. I don't give a f*** about neither one of them. They're about to feel it tomorrow. This is not a game, it's not a f***ing game, I'm about to tear his head off."
And just behind the two fighters was the conspicuous grin of
Lonergan, who may as well have had dollars signs ringing from his
The Godfather of All Fight Nights
Undercard 5: Isaac Peach (NZ) v James Uoka (NZ)
Undercard 4: Daniel McKinnon (NZ) v Taito Raturere
Undercard 3: Jaime Ridge (NZ) v Rosanna Arkle (Aus)
Undercard 2: Jesse Ryder v Mark Watson
Undercard 1: Joseph Parker (NZ) v Dean Garmonsway
Premier Undercard: Solomon Haumono (Aus) v Joey Wilson (NZ)
Main Event: Shane Cameron (NZ) v Monte Barrett (USA)
Follow live updates of the Godfather of All Fight Nights on onenews.co.nz from 6pm.