Ten months out of the ring has done nothing to quell Shane Cameron's appeal.
While a New Zealand venue and date are yet to be confirmed, Cameron will make his comeback against undefeated Australian Brad Pitt in a world title eliminator for the IBO cruiserweight crown later this year.
After losing a points decision for the same title to four-time Australian champion Danny Green in November, Cameron had been patiently plotting his next move.
Now, the prospect of a second shot at the IBO title has reignited his dream.
"This fight is a stepping stone to another shot at the title," Cameron said. "If I get another shot at a title that's created history in New Zealand. No-one in New Zealand has fought for two world titles, ever. I want to win it this time.
"It's good for me to have a world title eliminator in New Zealand and good for the public to witness it firsthand too."
Cameron (29-3) admits to being outmuscled and surprised by Green's tactics, but fighting at 88.5 kilograms, instead of the usual cruiserweight of 90.7 kg, did not help. Currently, Cameron weighs around 101kg. He will feel more comfortable dropping 10kg, rather than 12kg. For the average bloke, two kilograms may not seem that significant, but in boxing it carries dramatic ramifications.
"I'll feel a lot stronger," he said. "I don't have to chop it all the way down."
A Commonwealth Games heavyweight gold medallist in 2006, Pitt is nicknamed "Hollywood" for obvious reasons. The 31-year old turned pro at cruiserweight in 2009. He's won 14 fights since, 11 by knockout. Pitt also trains regularly with New Zealand UFC star James Te Huna.
"They've got a lot of raps on him in Australia," Cameron said. "He is a good fighter. I always thought he and I would clash at some stage. He can whack. He's a bit taller than me. He's a big cruiserweight."
Green was forced to relinquish his IBO cruiserweight title after being inactive for nine months. That opened the door for Britain's Ola Afolabi (19-3) to take on Poland's Lukasz Janik (26-1) at New York's Madison Square Gardens for the title in November. Cameron, who has remained conditioned during his layoff through cross-fit training, or Pitt have then been promised a shot at the winner.
"Once we get a date I'll be back in to the real grind," Cameron said. "It's like riding a bike. I already know how to box. It's just a matter of switching on."
- © Fairfax NZ News