Boxing: Stripped-down Cameron ready to fight

Danny Green (left) of Australia and Shane Cameron of New Zealand will meet in an IBO title bout tonight. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
Danny Green (left) of Australia and Shane Cameron of New Zealand will meet in an IBO title bout tonight. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
Shane Cameron's brittle right hand has been rebuilt so many times it would make Steve Austin wince. His skull has been smoothed so his face doesn't cut so easily. Even his reputation has required a rebuild after being shredded by David Tua in Hamilton three years ago.

So Cameron is no stranger to personal reconstruction. But tonight in Melbourne - against Danny Green in an IBO world cruiserweight title contest that eclipses the Tua fight for importance if not interest - it is how well Cameron copes with his physical deconstruction that will prove decisive.

Cameron has been broken down over the last seven weeks, stripping weight from an already fat-free body to meet Green's demands, and taking a pounding in the ring during an incredibly intensive sparring programme.

His gaunt physical appearance at his final public engagement before departing New Zealand last week shocked many. But Cameron believes his handlers have got things just right. The weight loss went smoothly, he has retained his power and has recovered from the brutal sparring as his workload was trimmed 10 days out from the fight.

"I'm a different man to what I was in my last sparring session when I was doing heavy rounds," he said at yesterday's weigh-in. "I am ready. I am exactly where I want to be, mate. I couldn't be more ready for anything in my life."

Cameron's camp had better have got it right. The blows he will take in the ring tonight won't go close to replicating the extended punishment he has received during 80 rounds of preparation.

"When you see a fighter get knocked out, most of the damage has been done before a fight," Cameron admitted in a recent interview with the Herald.

Green doesn't possess huge one-punch power but he is as relentless as his "Machine" moniker suggest. His impressive 28 KOs from 32 wins prove just how deadly he is if he gets the upper hand.

Cameron wants Green to come at him. Deep down, Green almost certainly wants to oblige. He's a front foot fighter, but he's also smart enough to know that standing in front of the much bigger but less mobile Cameron would be hugely risky.

At a media event in Auckland last month the Australian hinted at his strategy.

"Attack the body, take his wind, chop the tree down and take them out towards the end of the fight," was how Green described his preferred approach.

The build-up has been largely friction-free, however that will end tonight.

"I don't need to dislike or have any animosity towards someone to knock them out cold," Green said. "I'm a fighter, that's what I do. I'd knock my brother out if I had to. I don't want to hurt anyone or damage anyone permanently. I have no malicious intent when I am fighting. But I will keep punching until the ref drags me off and I will knock you out cold if I have to."

Green is fighting for his legacy. He wants to be the first Australian four-time world champion. At 39, he also wants to go out respected as someone who never ducked for cover. His reputation took a serious hit in 2010 when his title defence against countryman Paul Briggs, who was not fit physically or mentally to fight, turned into a 27 second farce.

Since then Green has been intent on righting the wrong. Twice he's bitten off more than he can chew, resulting in KO's at the hands of Antonio Tarver and WBC champ Krzystof Wlodarzyk.

Buoyed by his KO of Monte Barrett, Cameron believes Green has chosen the wrong man once again.

"The Barrett fight was the easiest fight of my career and this fight is going to be just as easy," Cameron said.

Despite his vastly superior pedigree, Green has been happy to play the Aussie battler card. He's getting long in the tooth, has been found out a couple of times, and Cameron is a truly dangerous puncher.

"I am older and he is probably hitting his peak but that excites me," Green said. "Hopefully when I am old and crotchety I can look back and say 'I took on guys I had to be at my best to defeat. Shane is that. He is not going to take me lightly. He is not that silly. He is good nick mentally and physically. He ain't taking this easy - this is his shot at the big time."

- By Steve Deane of the New Zealand Herald in Melbourne