There are few tougher sports than professional boxing, where two men enter the ring for a monetary reward.
Personally, I have a problem with the professional game, in that the people that often get the least out of fighting for cash are the boxers. Being aware of the pitfalls of big promises and a trusted management team are crucial ingredients in keeping hold of the hard fought dollars.
A big factor in a successful career in the 'punch for pay' ranks is to know when to retire. That call came from within, for highly successful Western Bay of Plenty pugilist "Gunnar the Stunna" Jackson over the weekend, ending a sterling nine year professional boxing stint.
Sideline Sid is lucky enough to have been there from the start of Gunnar's time in the ring in 2001, when he walked into the newly minted Tauranga Boxing Club gym at the Wharepai Domain. The Otumoetai College student took his new sport like a duck to water and had immediate success in Boxing New Zealand competitions.
In 2010, after winning Golden Gloves and numerous provincial amateur titles, Gunnar decided to roll the dice in the professional ranks; however he didn't get the start that he wanted, losing a close decision at the QE2 hall in Tauranga.
From an inauspicious start, Gunnar would go on to carve out a career as one of the true warriors of New Zealand professional boxing. His 29 win 13 loss 4 draws record, doesn't tell the tale of his fighting qualities and never give up attitude. He never needed the referee’s intervention, with many of his losses close run affairs that could have gone either way.
Trained for the vast majority of his career by Tauranga Boxing Club master coach Chris Walker, Jackson won several championship belts. His major success was the WBO Oriental Middleweight crown, defeating and then defending the title, against two hard as nails Aussies. The WBO title ranked him 10th in the World Boxing Organisation Middleweight ratings.
Such was his tenacity and durability that he got into the ring with two world champions. In January 2014, Jackson answered a late call-up to combat to go ten rounds with former three-time world champion Anthony "The Man" Mundine in Brisbane, finishing on the wrong end of a points decision.
22 months later, Gunnar fought on the big stage at the Thomas & Mack Centre in Las Vegas, where such mega bouts as Riddick Bowe v Evander Holyfield and Holyfield v Lennox Lewis have taken place. Jackson's opponent was future WBA World Middleweight Champion Ryoto Murata, with the fight going the full ten rounds.
With nothing left to prove in the squared ring, Gunnar will leave big boots to fill in the Australasian Pro ranks. His trademarks were humility and politeness, superb fitness and outstanding work ethic in and out of the ring, with a sense of fair play that is practically unknown in professional boxing.