The legendary boxing promoter Don King addressed the sell-out crowd of finance professionals at the Conrad Hotel from US Base Anaconda in Iraq. Taking a break from entertaining coalition troops on Iraqi front lines, King acknowledged "another set of warriors" and asked everyone to donate to the fight night's charity, Operation Smile.
Harking back to the great Ali-Frazier battles known as the "Rumble in the Jungle" (held in Kinsasha, Congo) and the "Thrilla in Manila", King dubbed last night's boxing tournament the "Ding Dong in Hong Kong".
Ron "The Anesthetist" Rutland, a South African working at Fortis Bank, dismantled England's Graham "Slappin" Lappin of Merrill Lynch to win the championship bout. The aggressive, full-on attack by Rutland forced Lappin to concede after the second round.
Tobias "The Wight Rhino" Bland, hailing from England's Isle of Wight and principal at hedge fund Enahnced Investment Products, won a bruising slug-fest against Aussie Adam "Kilgour" Upton of JF Asset Management to claim the heavyweight title. Although the judges all voted for Bland, Upton maintained a bristling defense that kept the crowd on its feet at the final of six rounds.
The crowd of hedgies, traders and investment bankers dipped into their pockets for Operation Smile, with one audience member paying HK$2.4 million for the top auction prize, an Aston Martin 2007 V8 Vantage Roadster convertible. The evening's primary sponsor, real-estate investment firm Intellectual Property, also donated money to the charity.
The only letdown of the evening was the "Never Say Never Again" models who served as ring girls: they were pouty, didn't smile, didn't strut, and buried their faces behind the round placards. The boxers had trained for five grueling months for this charity event, but once the evening went past its scheduled 11.30pm finish, the stroppy models abandoned the room - obviously they did not feel like sharing in the generosity of the evening. "Never Again" should be more like it. The organisers found a pair of brave ladies from the audience to serve as improptu subs - and frankly they showed better form.
In other fights, America's Doug "Bulldog" Jacobsen of Countrywide defeated Mark "Celtic Warrior" Finnie of Mergermarket, despite being nearly twice the Scotsman's age and of relatively short stature. Bulldog indeed.
In one of the more lopsided encounters, Tony "T-Bone" Shaw of HSBC pounded Will "Mad Dog" Marsden, also of Mergermarket. Marsden put up a swinging fight but after the second round conceded to his opponent'.
The third match saw an upset, in which the favourite, Budge "Dynamite" Wright of Merrill Lynch, lost narrowly to Maghnus "Victimizer" Byrne of Macquarie, going down in three technical and taught rounds.
Round four saw Toby "The Tornado" Dodd of Cushman & Wakefield unhinge Will "The Gunner" Sirett of Interactive Brokers. The first two rounds saw the boxers engaged in a tactical dance, but Dodd sent Sirett to the mat in round three.
All the boxers trained at Jab Mixed Martial Arts Studiio under the tutelage of Andrew Wong Kee.