Mountain Warrior’s return to ring raised eyebrows but it wasn’t his choice alone, writes Patrick McKendry.
After Shane Cameron finished his last fight - a defeat to American Brian Minto in December last year - once again covered in his own blood, a return to the ring was a decision he had to think long and hard about.
For second and third opinions, he asked wife Tara and father Graeme.
"I always run everything past my wife to make sure she's happy," Cameron said this week, "and she said, 'This is probably a good thing for you.'
"She knows I'm not content with this sport. She said, 'You need something to train for and you need to put this to sleep.' She's a full supporter. I asked my Dad, too, and he said, 'As long as you train hard, not like you did for the last one. I know what you can do and you didn't show that against Minto'. He said, 'You need to be sure you do everything right and then I'll be happy about you taking that fight."'
So now Cameron, 36, is preparing to fight fellow Kiwi Kali Meehan at the North Shore Events Centre on November 22, a bout that will decide the professional boxing future of the man known as the Mountain Warrior. A loss against the taller Meehan, who goes by name "Mean Hands", will result in him hanging up his gloves. A victory will extend his career. It might even result in a fight against rising heavyweight Joseph Parker, a match-up likely to be a popular and lucrative one.
However, Cameron is aware how cruel the fight game can be and not only because of the beating he suffered at the hands of David Tua in 2009.
Two years ago, after his stunning knockout victory over American Monte Barrett, he was a fighter going places, a man seemingly capable of fighting in both the cruiserweight and heavyweight divisions.
After stopping heavyweight Barrett in the fourth round of their fight in Auckland with a right hand the American still hasn't seen, Cameron stripped back for an IBO world cruiserweight title fight against Australian Danny Green, which for Cameron resulted in a disappointing points defeat.
His loss to Minto in Auckland last year, when he was forced to retire with several head cuts, was the first time he had lost back-to-back fights as a professional. Many believed it would be his last but now here he is again for a shot against his former sparring partner Meehan, a 44-year-old who won last year's inaugural Super 8 event and, who, as his nickname suggests, can still hit extremely hard.
Cameron's pressing, busy style and Meehan's punching power suggest this fight isn't likely to go the distance.
In Cameron's favour is the fact that he will not underestimate his opponent as he did with Minto, who was knocked out by Parker in his next fight. "I couldn't run properly, my knee was buggered, but hey, that's in the past now," Cameron said.
"The best man won on the night. I should have respected him more and trained harder or pulled out of the fight because I wasn't right," he said.
"I have a bigger task in front of me now. I think he's a harder task than Brian Minto, by far."
Meehan, born in New Zealand but based in Australia for most of his career, feels his legacy is at stake, a sentiment that could be shared by Cameron.
"I think it should have been me and David fighting to see who was the best heavyweight of our era, not Shane," Meehan said this week. "Shane is a good strong, fighter, he's got a big heart, but it's my job to prove I should have been there instead of Shane.
"As a fighter, that's something that is dear to us, trying to uphold our own legacy."