UNDEFEATED light middleweight prospect Anthony Buttigieg can’t help but get the feeling that he’s being overlooked.
The stocky Melburnian faces a herculean challenge on Friday night when he attempts to derail the ascension of former Australian light middleweight titleholder Rocky Jerkic. The pair will collide for the prestigious Commonwealth title, which hasn’t been held by an Australian for two decades.
Last year, the Australian boxing public was reminded in several high-profile fights that any fighter is only one single punch away from disaster. With that in mind, Buttigieg (12-0, 3 KOs) has left no stone unturned as he looks to mark the first blemish on the professional resume of the favoured Jerkic.
“I really was contemplating quitting my job for this fight,” admitted Buttigieg in an interview with Aus-Boxing. “I have followed a really strict regime for this fight; I’ve never done that before. I have taken time off work from just before the New Year and began preparing just before December.”
“As soon as I got the call I haven’t really stopped – I’ve been concentrating on training full time – I see this as a once in a lifetime opportunity at this point in my career.”
“I knew I couldn’t juggle work with the amount of training I need to do. I really needed to be committed. I think everything will now go to plan on the night.”
Buttigieg, 28, who previously held and successfully defended the Victorian state title three times, has always had his eye on the Australian title held by Jerkic. And while his intention was to always challenge for national title honours, the opportunity to still fight the divisions biggest talent, but for the Commonwealth title, was too good to turn down.
“I really didn’t want to bypass the Australian title, as I had my eyes set on it,” he explained. “Now this opportunity has just popped up in front of me to fight for a Commonwealth title, so I just have to fight for it.”
“To win will put me in good company with some of the great Australian fighters that have won one in the past. It would be great to add my name to that list. It would be an amazing achievement and great honour.”
With the exception of his Australian title winning effort against previous holder Shannon King, Jerkic (15-0, 12 KOs) has looked relatively unchallenged as a professional. However, Buttigieg believes he saw enough flaws in the King fight to exploit over an extended twelve round distance.
“I’m expecting him to be tougher than any other fighters I’ve fought,” he continued. “I’ve watched him and I think he has the power there. But whether or not he can get through my defence is another question. I really think I can outlast him over twelve rounds and get a decision over him. ”
“I felt he gassed a little after the third round against King, I think I’m more defensive than King and he is a really tough fighter. King has a bit more power than me and is a bigger bloke, but I think I’m a bit neater and tidier.”
“He went through to the eighth round and got caught; I think I can get through to the twelfth without getting caught.”
Although he realises that he is the underdog in the biggest fight of his career, Buttigieg believes that his ability is being underrated, which can only work in his favour.
“I think they look at me like I’m an easy option,” he concluded. “I feel that it’s going to turn into a war. It’s going to be a tough fight. I’ve never gone twelve rounds before, but I’m confident that it wont be a problem.”
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