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Golden gloves: five AFL players who could box

Ahead of Mayweather v Pacquiao this Sunday, looks back at five players who could hold their own against the best in the boxing ring.

Jake Melksham previews ‘fight of the century’

Barry Hall

Yes, there’s one punch we remember, but Hall was handy with the gloves on as well. He stepped into the ring to spar with Danny Green a number of times and impressed the pro, who boasts a 33-5 record across cruiserweight, light-heavyweight and super-middleweight divisions. Hall was an amateur state champion as a schoolboy and, according to Green, could take a punch and was good on his feet.

Kayne Pettifer

Pettifer made a successful fight debut against Thai fighter Terkiat Sitheppita in 2014. Pettifer played 113 AFL games for Richmond between 2001 and 2009. He always had a passion for boxing and picked up some clues from former world champion Sam Soliman, who used to help the Tigers work out in the ring.

Gary Ablett Sr

The stories of Ablett’s boxing prowess are legendary. While he could take close to half an hour to punch out a 3km time trial, Ablett lit up when training moved into the ring. He was fast, powerful, skilled … and aggressive. “He knew what he was doing. Getting draw to spar with him was a bit scary, he was bloody good,” a former Cat told us.

VFL 1989 - Geelong Cats

Michael Long

The Bombers have had a few handy boxers over the years. Terry Daniher could throw a punch, Roger Merrett was feared, Merv Neagle proficient and, more recently, Nathan Lovett-Murray handled himself very well. But Michael Long was the pick of the bunch of the Bombers.

1991 AFL Round 10

Maurice Rioli

The late Rioli was an all-round sportsman. His fine footy career was full of brilliant highlights and match-winning performances. As well as enjoying cricket, basketball and rugby league, Rioli won several state amateur boxing titles. Word has it he put Mark ‘Jacko’ Jackson in his place with a dominant display against the much bigger man while they were teammates in WA.