Lord Prescott brought back memories of the 2001 election when he threw punches while on the campaign trail… this time at TV reporter Michael Crick.
The pair got in the ring during a visit to Redcar Amateur Boxing Club by the Labour heavyweight in support of the party’s General Election candidate, Anna Turley.
Mr Crick, who works for Channel 4 News, also turned up at the club and officials suggested they could don the gloves ahead of an interview.
And the pair sparred, with Lord Prescott going on the offensive, perhaps channelling the aggression of a Manny Pacquiao, while the TV reporter went into Floyd Mayweather mode and adopted a more defensive technique.
Lord Prescott was deputy prime minister in 2001 when he lashed out at a protester after he was egged in Rhyl, North Wales. Tony Blair later wrote that the incident, which saw “Two Jags” dubbed “Two Jabs”, was “extraordinarily funny”.
One witness to the Prescott-Crick exhibition of the sweet science said: “One of the Labour officials said Crick should get in the ring with John.
“Crick said something like ‘I don’t think that is a good idea’.
“Then they got in the ring together and started sparring.
“Crick was treating it as a light-hearted joke, and then Prescott just punched him.
“Crick was taken aback.
“Prescott must have thrown half a dozen punches.”
The crowd, which included young boxing club members, cheered during the brief tussle.
The witness said: “It was incredible. I couldn’t believe what I was watching.
“Then they just stopped.
“Prescott was quite out of breath, he looked exhausted after his exertions.
“Prescott was still in his gloves for the interview but Crick took his off so he could hold the microphone.”
The pair touched gloves at the end in mutual appreciation, and there were cheers, with no apparent hard feelings.
A Labour North spokesperson said: “An easy win for Prescott.
“Crick entered the ring, confident of victory but, showing form, the Labour veteran quickly made easy work of the prize fighter from Channel 4.
“One round, victory.”
Writing on the Channel 4 News website, the award-winning TV journalist said he expressed his doubts ahead of the session, telling everyone: “But I’ve never boxed in my life. He has. He’s virtually a professional.”
Mr Crick said what started as shadow-boxing escalated after he “gently grazed his lordship’s tummy”.
Prescott, a keen amateur boxer in his younger days, was said to have said: “Oh, it’s like that then, is it?”
And to cheers from the crowd, “punches were raining in”, Crick said.
He concluded: “Lord Prescott had won on points and proclaimed victory.
“Next time I’ll stand my ground.”
Ms Turley tweeted: “Brought @johnprescott to Redcar today… should have known something would happen!”