New Zealand batsman Jesse Ryder is set to return to the boxing ring for an amateur bout on March 28. Ryder, who has had several disciplinary and injury issues of late, had pulled out of the New Zealand A squad for the tour to the UAE late last year, citing personal reasons, and was subsequently not included in the New Zealand's World Cup squad.
Ryder has boxed before, knocking out sports-radio host Mark Watson in under two minutes in a much-anticipated bout in Auckland in July 2012. He had also challenged former New Zealand batsman Craig McMillan and former England allrounder Andrew Flintoff to sparring matches previously. His upcoming match will be against blogger Cameron Slater, in the Super 8 Cruiserweight tournament in Christchurch.
Ryder said people had questioned his decision to box again, given the physical assault he suffered outside a bar in Christchurch in March 2013 that put him in a coma, but he was sure he was ready. "A lot of people have come out and said I shouldn't be doing it, but I've passed all my medical and concussion clinic tests and had no recurring issues so I'm happy with where I'm at," Ryder said at a press conference. "If I had issues I wouldn't have taken the fight."
Ryder also clarified the nature of the injury he picked up during that assault. "There were a lot of people saying I had a fractured skull, but there was nothing like that. It might have been a minor concussion. My lungs were the main reason I struggled after the incident happened."
In the last three years, Ryder's off-field-issues list included him being dropped for disciplinary issues during the one-day series against South Africa in February 2012, before having to serve a six-month suspension for taking banned stimulants - a period that coincided with his recovery from the assault in Christchurch. He was recalled for the home series against West Indies in December, but was again dropped two months later for staying out late at an Auckland bar on the eve of a Test against India.