An invitation for the shadowboxers
Fighting fascinates people and I think it’s because everyone thinks they can do it. The funny thing about that is not many people actually can.
I really notice that when I walk outside a boxing event and I see all these guys shadowboxing, saying ‘I would have done this’, or ‘I would have done that’.
I always think, ‘Well, why don’t you jump in the ring for a sparring session and we’ll see how you’d really go’.
This sport isn’t for everyone. It’s two blokes in a ring, trying to knock each other out legally. You can’t do that anywhere else in society. And let me tell you, those 10oz gloves don’t protect too much either.
But still, fighting is something that captivates and entertains people; from kids all the way up to old blokes who’ve been watching boxing all their lives.
I was part of a speaking tour for the State of Origin series this year, going around to places in Sydney, Perth and Brisbane, and the main focus of the questions was all about my fight with Nate Myles back in 2013, when I landed one on his chin.
There we were, trying to talk about Origin and the greatest game of all, played by 34 of the greatest athletes in our game, and people only wanted to ask about a fight. That’s why boxing exists.
But as I said, it’s not for everyone. The people that get in a ring and entertain, they deserve every cent they earn. For what they’re putting on the line in each fight, boxers deserve to be paid well and respected.
The motivation to hurt someone
One thing that Anthony Mundine always said is that boxing is a business. Whether you like him or not, from my time in the sport I’ve learned that Choc was right about that.
When you step into a ring, you’re putting your life on the line. It’s not something you can muck around with. I never have; I’ve always respected the sport in the way I prepare for each and every fight.
I love the challenge and training that comes with doing a fight camp, and the opportunity to improve my skills. But at the end of the day, it’s a business and I’m not about to hop in the ring to fight just anybody, because I’ve got nothing to prove. I’ll only take a fight if it works for me business-wise.
Me and Barry Hall stepping in the ring is something that has been spoken about for many years, and now we get to do it. Now we get to answer the questions about which of us is the better fighter.
I think this all started because of who he is in the AFL, and his reputation.
When I first started boxing, I knew a few top fighters that also knew Barry. They all said to me, “Whatever you do, don’t fight Barry Hall”.
I just thought, ‘Well, that’s a challenge’.
Whenever promoters asked if I’d fight Barry, I always said yes. But for whatever reason, the fight never got booked. I don’t know why, but the deals weren’t falling through on my end. Maybe Barry wasn’t happy with what was on the table, until Danny Green stepped in and got him to sign this time around.
The hype around the fight is great but all that matters is that we put on a great show for the fans. It’s not personal between us. I’ll be honest, I don’t even know the guy.
From what I hear, he’s a nice bloke. When I met him the first time, he congratulated me on my career. But on fight night, you set that all aside because when it’s all said and done, I want to be the one getting my hand raised.
Finding the motivation to hurt someone in the ring isn’t hard. Barry is trying to take away a part of me, and I’m not going to let that happen.
He’s trying to take away my health and my perfect boxing record.
I’m undefeated from nine fights, and I don’t think anyone can bag who I’ve fought. I’ve only ever gone up against professional athletes or people with more combat sports experience than myself.
Herman Ene-Purcell is the current Australasian champion and I’ve beaten him twice. Randall Rayment was an experienced MMA fighter with an amateur boxing career. Ryan Carr-Ketu and John Hopoate both had more than a few MMA and boxing fights under their belts. Junior Paulo was a big NRL front-rower with a solid skills base in boxing.
But it’s not about legacy for me. That’s not something I believe in. You’re relevant when you’re in the game and you’re done when you’re done. My motivation is my own competitive nature. And the fact that it’s my health on the line, when I step in that ring.