Wade Hurley and Justin Russell spar it out in preparation for their first fight of the year this weekend.
Wade Hurley and Justin Russell spar it out in preparation for their first fight of the year this weekend. Rob Barich

Clenching fists for first fight

TWICE Justin Russell has trained tirelessly in preparation for his debut fight and twice he has been denied.

The 66kg fighter from the Bundaberg Boxing League has yet to find an opponent of similar weight and skill to stand beside him in the ring.

“It’s really frustrating. I train really hard in the lead up to these meets and all the effort I go to seems like a big waste of time when there is no one to fight,” Russell said.

He hopes to break his boxing cherry this Saturday at the Shamrock in Maroochydore, where young fighters from around Queensland will travel for the first bout of the season.

Sid Blair’s gym will have eight fighters attending, including last year’s Queensland Titles silver medallist Malachi Johnson and the experienced Wade Hurley.

Hurley, a veteran of eight fights for six wins, will attempt to further improve his record in the 70kg class.

The gym only took one week off for Christmas, and Blair’s training has lifted in intensity ever since.

Sprint work, dragging tyres, scaling stairs and intense cardio have the two boys in better shape than ever.

“They are looking pretty good this year,” Blair said.

“We returned some good results last season but we always want more wins, so that’s the goal.”

“They are all more experienced too, which counts for a lot in the boxing ring.”

Fights will be three rounds of three minutes each, an extra minute on previous years.

“A lot can happen in that last minute, heaps of points can be made, so it will shake things up a bit and test their fitness,” Blair said.

Hurley admitted it would be a tough prospect despite remaining confident.

“I can feel the difference in my fitness already this year because of this training, so I think I should cope fine,” he said.

“It adds a bit to the fight though, because you get much more tired in that last minute.”

The brash Johnson, buzzing with confidence, said he was more than ready to start the new season with a win.

“I’m feeling great and can’t wait to get in the ring,” he said.

Johnson has put 6kg on his frame since last season, but says he would have no problem trading blows with the bigger boys.

“It was Sid’s idea, he thinks I’m ready to step it up and I know I’m good enough,” he said.

The Shamrock meet is the first of a busy season for Bundaberg boxers, who have an option to compete basically every fortnight for the rest of the year.

“It’s non-stop, but we pick and choose where we fight really,” Blair said.

Boxers from Bob Butler’s BYC Boxing Club and Tanya Meade’s Hard Knox gym are also expected to make the trip to the Sunshine Coast.

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