Attempting to roll with the punches is nothing new for Quade Cooper, but even the polarising Wallabies playmaker was surprised at making a decent fist of his professional boxing debut.
Cooper raised his right hand in triumph soon after employing it to knock Brisbane car accident insurance assessor Barry Dunnett senseless with a second remaining in the first round of their cruiserweight contest at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre on Friday night.
Cooper was booed by a significant section of the 4000-strong crowd but given the reception he received at the 2011 World Cup, it barely registered with him.
"You can't like everyone. I've got no issues with people booing.
"There was a lot of people cheering.
"I had a great time and I'm looking forward to the next time I get an opportunity."
Increasingly nervous before his first foray into the ring, the 24-year- old eased the anxieties when Dunnett copped a standing eight count - the precursor to his lapse into unconsciousness soon after.
"Once I got in there you've just got to trust your ability, trust your trainers," he explained.
"They said 'you're going to be too quick, keep jabbing'.
"Once I kept landing them I followed it up with a right, which was our game plan, and I was lucky enough to end it first round."
Cooper was almost apologetic after making short work of Dunnett, a martial arts specialist.
"It would have been good to go a little bit longer just to get some experience."
Dunnett amped up the pressure on Cooper by vowing to strike a blow for professional fighters but the Tokoroa-born Queenslander instead issued an emphatic statement.
"I'd love to have another one later on this year. I've got a big year of rugby ahead so but hopefully when there's a window of opportunity to have a fight, maybe in December, I'll be ready and fighting fit."
"I really had a great time out there. Learning a new skill has been a great opportunity for me.
"Once I got in the ring with all the lights, all the people there, that's where I love to be, right in the centre of that."
But Cooper was not as comfortable watching ringside as his mate Sonny Bill Williams almost lost his unbeaten record against the combative Francois Botha.
Cooper had only a few hours to dwell on his success - yesterday he rejoined his Reds team-mates at a fan day at Ballymore. He resumes training with the squad tomorrow.
- Sunday News
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