One of New Zealand's most fearsome amateur punchers has come in from the cold and returned to boxing in the punch for pay grade. Eketahuna shepherd, Lance Bryant has signed on to throw down in the SUPER 8 Cruiserweight last man standing tournament, on the undercard of the Shane Cameron vs. Kali Meehan Super fight on November 22nd at the North Shore event centre.
The 33 year old boasted an enviable list of KO scalps when family commitments forced him to leave the game in 2006. The four time New Zealand champion had KO'd NZ born Australian Olympic quarter finalist Adam Forsyth (now 10 and 0 as a pro), 2006 Commonwealth games Gold medalist Brad Pitt (15-1,0 professionally and narrowly lost via split decision to world title contender, Shane Cameron in the same year.
But, at a time when options were limited for aspiring professional boxers, Bryant found he couldn't continue training like a professional while on an amateur's non-existent paycheck.
"I had a young family to attend to, boxing didn't really offer any financial pathways at the time, so putting food on the table for my family came first."
The then 26 year old hung up the gloves and opted for life of tending stock on sheep farm while focused on supporting his then two kids, now four, aged 14,15, 5 and 2.
"If your head isn't 100% focused boxing is a sport where you can get hurt. For me my family was my top priority. Fighting is a selfish sport but it wasn't giving me anything back.
"But things are different now I'm in the prime of my physical life and ready to lace up the gloves once again and have a crack at the SUPER 8."
Bryant has already had three bouts in 2014 and long time confidant, Paul McSharry believes the SUPER 8 format offer the perfect platform for the stocky power puncher to make a statement.
"Over longer duration, Lance's time out of the sport might count against him, but three rounds sprints are tailor made for Lance's pure punching power
"When he was 16, I remember telling him he had a gift and not to waste it, 16 years later SUPER 8 is providing him with the platform to see that come to fruition."
SUPER 8 Match maker Mark Keddell see's Bryant's power providing plenty of headaches for a field which already includes Australian # 1,3 & 6 in the field, with at least one other top five Australian to be added.
"SUPER 8 is about risk and reward, every fight matters and the potential match ups between the fighters we are bringing in are extremely exciting.
"There are no easy fights, no free passes, just old-fashioned Donny-brook brawls, and Lance is the past master at catching you cold and I expect a few of the favorites to have their cages rattled."