Odd buildup for Shane Cameron, Brian Minto

New Zealand heavyweight boxer Shane Cameron, left, American Brian Minto square off yesterday at the Invercargill Airport as the countdown continues to their showdown in Auckland on Saturday night.
New Zealand heavyweight boxer Shane Cameron, left, American Brian Minto square off yesterday at the Invercargill Airport as the countdown continues to their showdown in Auckland on Saturday night.

These are awkward times for Kiwi boxer Shane Cameron and his American opponent Brian Minto.

An obligatory eye-ball and a dash of trash talk at the weigh-in is one thing, travelling together on a week-long promotional tour of New Zealand is another.

"He's not that happy about it, I'm not either, but it's all part and parcel of the game," Cameron said during a whistlestop in Wellington yesterday.

"We don't go out for dinner or eat together even though we are travelling together. We travel in different cars, we don't sit next to each other on the plane.

"But you get to certain points of the day where you end up standing next to each other and he's quite a nice bloke, so we talk."

And that's where it's a bit awkward for a couple of blokes who will try to knock each other out during the main bout of Saturday's Fight for Life in Auckland.

"Most of the guys I've fought are are probably nice guys, but you just see them at the weigh-in, stare into their eyes and see them in the ring.

"With Brian I've got to know the guy a bit more. You aren't going to just stand there and not say anything for days on end.

"He's got a family same as me, so you talk about the family and you have similar interests. We're both fighters.

"But I know and he knows when that bell goes it's a totally different story."

Minto shares similar feelings, but said the small talk was coming to a natural end.

"You could see today we are getting a bit more distant. I'm not trying to be buddy-buddy, but at the same time I'm saying hey to him. It's not personal, it's just business, that's all," the 38-year-old father of two said.

"He's trying to take food out of my kid's mouth, that's only going to make me fight harder. I punch with bad intentions because I know I can't leave it up to the judges over here ... I have to bring my own judges and that's these fists right here."

Both men are desperate to extend their records - Cameron (29-3) and Minto (38-7) - with their professional careers at a crossroads.

New Zealand trainer Kevin Barry is in Minto's corner and has been busily trying to boost his man's confidence levels.

Barry painted Cameron as an uncertain fighter who has lost his way in bouncing between the cruiserweight and heavyweight divisions.

He said Minto was more active with six fights this year, while Cameron had fought twice over two years and was worn out by a grinding career.

"Shane's boxed 12 rounds 17 times, which is absolutely unheard of ... it's not the 12 rounds on fight day, it's the hundreds if not thousands of rounds of sparring to get ready.

"That takes a toll on your body. He's had problems with his hands, cuts, the pressure is on in this fight. I think we've got Shane in a bit of a quandary mentally."

Of course Barry has ulterior motives. He wants Cameron to fight Joseph Parker and will no doubt push for it post-fight, regardless of the result.

There's more chance of a lucrative Cameron-Parker showdown if the former loses. Otherwise why would Cameron take a risk on the young buck?

Whatever the case, Cameron doesn't plan to lose.

Though he lost to Green last November, his last heavyweight fight was possibly his best, a spectacular knockout of Monte Barrett.

And Cameron has a different spin on his sortie into the cruiserweight ranks.

He doesn't regret taking the world title fight, but said dropping 12kg to 88.5kg to fight Green was too big an ask and took its toll during the 12-round battle.

The upside was that as he put the weight back on he realised he'd spent much of his career trying to carry too many kilos.

"This is only the second time I will fight at my natural weight. The first time was when I beat Barrett.

"Up until then I thought bigger was better, so I was eating like an animal to maintain the weight."

Cameron will be about 99kg come weigh-in and believes he can repeat the performance that sent Barrett reeling.

Fairfax Media