Shane Cameron has shown the first signs that Monte Barrett is getting under his skin during a bad-tempered exchange between the pair today.
At the official weigh-in at Auckland's Sky City before tomorrow's heavyweight bout at the same venue, Kiwi Cameron, who until now has been nonchalant in the face of American Barrett's provocation, finally let rip.
Cameron was replying to a question as Barrett gestured to the crowd with his hands, suggesting his opponent was talking too much. What started as: "This is a great opportunity, everything is about opportunities and how you take it if you want it and it comes down to who wants it on the night ...", finished as he saw what Barrett was doing: "to shut this big-mouth piece of s**t up".
Barrett replied with a foul-mouthed tirade, which ended: "This is not a game. I'm about ready to tear his head off."
Cameron, known for his excellent fitness, tipped the scales at 97.4kg, but Barrett also looked extremely fit and well-prepared. He weighed in at 99.3kg.
The fast talking 41-year-old from Queens, New York, began the wind-ups yesterday at the official press conference, when he said Cameron had "psychological problems" for wanting to spar with heavyweight David Haye in London as preparation. Haye is fighting fellow Brit Dereck Chisora in the city next week.
He also fired a few shots at Cameron's trainer Ken Reinsfield for talking too much, saying: "Calm down, let your fighter talk. Even though I talk my trash I do respect the kid, I know he comes to fight."
He was all smiles with Reinsfield afterwards, suggesting there were no hard feelings, but Barrett had a harder edge today, his body language and outburst suggesting he wasn't in the mood to play too many more games.
He talked to Cameron, 34, as the pair posed face-to-face for photographs, with the New Zealander making a gibe about Barrett's "bad breath" when asked what was said.
That prompted another outburst from Barrett, who said: "You're going down, this ain't no Rocky movie ... you're about to get it."
The pressure is on Cameron, who still has hopes of furthering his heavyweight career despite a bad beating at the hands of David Tua, to get the better of Barrett, who has accounted for Tua and has fought several excellent fighters including Haye, Wladimir Klitschko and Nikolay Valuev, but is nearing the end of his career.
In the weigh-in for the other highly anticipated fight of the night, the undercard bout between Joseph Parker, who is making his professional debut, and Dean Garmonsway, the 20-year-old Parker registered 105.9kg and his opponent 106.9.
Cricketer Jesse Ryder, who is fighting talk-show host Mark Watson, was pleased with his 104.4kg weight - he has lost six kilograms in a little over three weeks. Watson was 94.5kg.
There was a minor controversy as Jaime Ridge, a participant in another of the undercard fights, weighed in at 60.7kg, which is over the 60kg limit. She is expected to make the weight later today. Her opponent, reality television's Rosanna Arkle, weighed 53.6kg.
"I expected it around that anyway," Arkle said of the weight difference. "I didn't expect us to be exactly the same."