It doesn't look like a fair fight ringside in Shane Cameron's gym on Auckland's North Shore, not that he has any qualms squaring off against David Aloua, Daniel McKinnon and Sam Rapira in quick succession.
It was Cameron's choice to put himself through the wringer against the three younger, lighter and arguably more agile sparring partners, boxers chosen specifically to get him up to speed for a coveted IBO cruiserweight world title fight against Danny Green, in Melbourne on November 21.
Cameron finishes the sparring component on an eight-week buildup on Tuesday, the day before he heads to Australia for a long-anticipated bout with Green, a world champion in three different weight divisions.
And as he enjoyed a rare training-free day in Auckland on Wednesday, the 35-year-old reckoned Aloua, McKinnon and Rapira had already played their part as the most important fight of his professional career looms.
Cameron, a heavyweight by trade, has dropped a weight division to take on Green, a 39-year-old veteran whose pace, rather than punching power, is the prime concern.
"He's more of a light heavyweight than a cruiserweight so speed will play a big factor," said Cameron.
"Danny's going to be moving fast so I have to make sure my speed's up." Fortunately, Cameron has had light heavyweights McKinnon, Rapira - the hard-hitting Warriors prop's namesake - and cruiserweight Aloua at his disposal.
"The light heavyweights don't quite have the power I'm used to but they throw more punches.
"They're doing the job for me. And the boys are up for it, which is good," he said.
Cameron is no slouch on the canvas, but Green's nimbleness is a point of difference, so increasing mobility while not sacrificing strength has been a key component of the buildup to his 30th pro fight - New Zealand's first world title shot since David Tua's unsuccessful tilt at Lennox Lewis' heavyweight crown in 2000. "Everything . . . has to be fast. Footwork is key . . . If you've got good footwork you'll get out of the way," he explains.
The Gisborne slugger has to strip 7kg off the frame he employed to devastating effect against Monte Barrett in July, a delicate balancing act as he needs to retain his raw power.
"I'm only two-and-a-half kilos off," he said. "Diet has been key, it's the first time I've been to see a professional dietitian. I'm losing the body fat but I'm maintaining my size, and my strength is still there."
Cameron, an East Coast farm boy with a liking for steak, eggs and chips, has had to sacrifice a decent feed for six smaller meals spread through the day as he limits his calories to 2500 per 24 hours.
Breakfast is porridge, and protein powder in chicken, broccoli, kumara and rice is ingested at regular intervals until lights out.
"The steaks are a lot smaller. I finish the meal and go, ‘Where's the rest?' " Ideally, Cameron will dine out on Thursday week.
- © Fairfax NZ News