Shane Cameron pauses to consider the significance Brian Minto poses. He doesn't need long. Falling at the first step in his final crack at the heavyweight division isn't an option tonight.
For him, this Fight for Life is hit or bust.
"I can't lose to this guy," Cameron admits.
"If I do, I'll have to reconsider what I'm going to do. I haven't really thought about it too much, enough to drive me and keep me training hard. If I can't beat Brian Minto there's something wrong."
Indeed, a loss would, essentially, lead to one option. Joseph Parker.
For now, though, that fight is not on Cameron's radar. Not yet. No boxer enters the ring with defeat foremost in mind.
Then again Cameron isn't most fighters. After 12 months out of the ring most would opt for an easy win against a second-rate opponent to build momentum.
At this stage of his career Cameron (29-3) feels he doesn't have that luxury. He wants, and needs, to gain some impetus; to make a statement.
A manufactured path doesn't suit his personality. He's never chosen the easy route. In tough American brawler Minto (38-7) Cameron has plotted a resumption carrying real risks and, with the WBO Oriental title and top 15 ranking on offer, real rewards and recognition.
"Kudos to him for taking a genuine comeback fight," Minto said.
"Most guys will take a tune-up just to get a win. It makes a statement as to where you're at in your career. If you can't win then ... "
David Tua's sudden retirement stuck Cameron. The pair have long formed the backbone of New Zealand boxing. At 36, Cameron is now more conscious than ever of not stagnating.
"It's an important time for me with David retiring," he said.
"David's been a great champion for the New Zealand public longer than me. He's got a massive fan base. I want to try and continue that as long as I can, so I need to win."
While he comes off a cruiserweight world title loss to Danny Green, many forget Cameron's last performance in the division of giants was his best.
Monte Barrett, the American who crippled Tua's career, lay on the canvas for over a minute after Cameron's thundering right hand.
There were other, bigger opportunities to fight at cruiserweight. But here, at 99kg, Cameron feels mobile, strong and fast. This is just the second time he's fought at his natural weight. Here is most comfortable.
"I don't care if Brian was six-foot-eight, I'd still be the same weight."
Plenty has been made of Cameron's ring rust. Little of the fact he never stopped training in cross fit sessions at his Birkenhead gym.
Eight weeks ago when he slipped back into sparring - four weeks earlier than a normal camp - rust was evident. Shots were taken in order to regain timing, get his eye in and stabilise defence.
"They seem to think me being out of the ring will play into their hands," he said.
"I don't believe that. After a couple of weeks I was back in my stride."
Minto presents no surprises. He'll come at Cameron from the opening bell.
"I don't believe this fight will go the distance," Minto said. "Be prepared for a good battle."
That aggressive approach also offers openings. If Cameron can be patient and time his counter punches, his career should not falter in the face of fury.
"I don't have to chase the guy around," he said. "At the same time I need to manage how he comes forward. We've got a fight plan in place to deal with that. He can make any good fighter look average. I'm fully prepared for whatever he brings. It was time to get back into it. I couldn't wait any longer."
- Fairfax Media
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