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Munroe a modern Rocky

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Ben Dirs | 13:06 UK time, Thursday, 21 October 2010

There is a common misconception that any boxer who fights for a world title must have a fair few quid already, a fallacy not even Rocky Balboa - debt collecting by day, fighting for the heavyweight championship of the world by night - could erase.

People who saw Rocky thought it was a fairytale, which of course it was, but it was a one that contained a healthy dose of realism. Just ask Rendall Munroe.

Leicester fighter Munroe challenges Toshiaki Nishioka for the WBC super-bantamweight title in Tokyo on Sunday, having taken a nine-week, unpaid sabbatical from his day job as a binman. But win or lose in Japan, Munroe says he will return to his round.

Rendall Munroe with trainer Jason Shinfield (left) and manager Mike Shinfield

Munroe has been guided by trainer Jason Shinfield (left) and manager Mike Shinfield

"I could have left two or three years ago but I'm having fun there," Munroe, 30, told BBC Sport. "It keeps me fit and it keeps my feet on the ground. If you do one thing too much, it can drown you. Mixing it up keeps me loose."

Munroe is a former European champion with five title defences to his name, all of them shown live on Sky, which might make his vow to return to his cart even more baffling to some. But boxing is a sport in which only a very few make serious hay, as promoter Barry Hearn recently spelt out to the BBC.

"There are still only three or four fighters who make what I would call decent money in this country of roughly 1,000 professional boxers," said Hearn, who has promoted Chris Eubank, Nigel Benn, Lennox Lewis and Naseem Hamed in his time.

"Say a fighter gets £20,000 for a fight. Worst-case scenario is the manager says 'I want 25%'. Then the trainer wants 10%. You might have had to pack up work in the lead-up to the fight - there's another couple of grand gone. Then you've got to go to the gym for six weeks and take all your medicals - there's another £1,000 gone.

"Then the day after the fight you're sore, you don't really want to go back to work. So there's no fortunes in this, even if you box three or four times a year."

Nishioka is four years older than Munroe and has been mixing at world level for a decade. He challenged Thailand's Veeraphol Sahaprom for the WBC bantamweight crown four times between 2000 and 2004, losing twice and drawing twice, so he is nothing if not determined.

An elusive southpaw, Nishioka also has speed to burn, a solid beard and a crackerjack left hand. Munroe readily admits he will have to find a new gear to beat him.

"He's a world-class champion and every time you step up a new level you've got to be better than you were last time," stated Munroe, whose only defeat in 22 fights came when challenging for the British featherweight crown in 2006.

"But we've had sparring partners in who are fast, strong southpaws and the team around me knows what it's doing. Every fight someone comes up with a game-plan.

"When I first saw him, I said to my trainer [Jason Shinfield] 'no disrespect to the guy, but I think I'm going to eat him'."

Munroe is expecting between 200-250 supporters to make the trip, most of whom will be decked out in high-visibility binman vests on fight night, as is the norm for Munroe's bouts. The Japanese fans, a more sedate bunch, won't know what's hit them. "Silent? It ain't gonna be silent when my lot get over there," Munroe vowed.

Even with the Leicester roar behind him at the 10,000-capacity Sumo Hall, it will be a tough ask for Munroe, a slow starter who lacks the dimensions of the champion, who in turn has been stopped only once, way back in 1995.

That said, Munroe has no reverse gear and appears to get stronger as his fights grind on, as to which Mexico's Victor Terrazas, who lost to Munroe in a final eliminator in April, will attest. There is a chance that Nishioka, who has fought about 100 more rounds than the challenger, will find himself drowning in the championship rounds.

Return from Japan with the belt round his waist and Munroe won't just be signing autographs on his first bin round back, and he could have a full-scale 'Rocky' situation on his hands. It's just a shame those steps in front of Leicester Town Hall look so weedy.

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  • Comment number 1.

    All the very best to him, and 200-250 fans going all that way is a great show of support.
    Ben, who would be a next challenger for him, should he bring the belt back?

  • Comment number 2.

    i saw one of his fight recently, v an Italian? He seems aggressive and entertaining, he certainly beat up the guy he was fighting. The hi-vis vests in the crowd were great. Is there any 'big names' or big fights in his division or the one up?

  • Comment number 3.

    oh and btw, Mr Dirs, what the hells going on in your pic? You look like you're in a right strop. A smile costs nothing, come on, cheer up.

  • Comment number 4.

    I'm liking this guys attitude towards keeping himself grounded. Sounds like he could be a popular boxer in this country if more people knew who he was (thats a problem with boxing, not the boxer). Will be keeping an eye on this guy. His attitude seems refreshing.

  • Comment number 5.

    Sandro1111 - Hi mate. If he wins then maybe a domestic dust-up with Jason Booth would make sense. Booth lost a world title challenge himself last time out, but acquitted himself pretty well.

    jolshopsatoxfam - Can you not see the right-hand corner of my mouth beginning to curl? It's what I call my Mona Lisa smile...

  • Comment number 6.

    I've been living out here for a number of years now and there are a couple of us heading down for the fight - glad to finally see one of our smaller UK fighters get a shot at one of the Japanese champions!!! The rest of the bill looks pretty tasty, too. Now, where to get a high vis jacket...

  • Comment number 7.

    Brilliant! Sky Sports showing the fight at 10am! May be nursing a hangover but cant think of many better ways to start a Sunday morning! All the best Rendall!

  • Comment number 8.

    Great story, great man. Rendall is on the right side of boxing at its very humble, genuine and inspirational best. God speed, buddy!!

  • Comment number 9.

    diddyt01 - Not sure you'll have to be up that early, the coverage starts on Sky at 1500 BST, so plenty of time to shake off that hangover...

  • Comment number 10.

    Good luck to him. I always liked Rendall. I used to spar with him in Leicester and I outweighed him by nearly 4 stone. He was always really strong for his weight - two bruises one above each eye attests to that! He was always into his binman job claiming it was part of his training. Just as unorthodox as Rocky!

  • Comment number 11.

    Good luck to Rendall, think he might just pull it off.

    I do love a Rocky story, it's help makes Boxing the best TV Sport.



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