SIX months ago, Mark Lucas surprised the boxing community with an unlikely retirement.
Citing a lack of desire and refuting the politics that flood the sport domestically, Lucas hung up his gloves after an unbeaten campaign in nine professional fights.
However, a break away from the punch-for-pay profession gave Lucas (9-0, 3 KOs) a chance to think about his future, before a change of heart brought him back.
“I had to have a little time away and I was able to reflect,” Lucas told Aus-Boxing.
“The break allowed me to take a little bit of the pressure off. I’m now mentally more relaxed than I have ever been. Taking time out and stepping back made me realise that I want to box.
“I want to come back and take good fights. It’s something I’m really looking forward to.
“Looking back, I never wanted to step away from the sport. I have been that dedicated over fourteen years and I actually never had a break.
“A lot of fighters have had time out and haven’t done anything for six months or three months here and there. As an amateur coming up, I just never had a chance to have any time off.”
Despite an eighteen month absence, Lucas has wasted little time in his return, moving up a division to face former Commonwealth title challenger Rocky Jerkic (16-1, 13 KOs) at the Hordern Pavilion on Friday night.
Although there will be pressure to perform on the televised pay-per-view platform, Lucas saw no other option for his return.
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Prep has been tough Working hard through the heat in the gym tonight. Two weeks to go looking forward to the taper and freshening up. Cannot wait to take on my toughest challenge to date and come away 10-0 on Feb 8th. @nolimit_aus @nowcryotherapy @drbgroup @homesluxliving @forteboxingacademy @coachnudgemieli
“This is definitely the biggest test of my career as a professional,” he explained.
“Rocky is a real quality boxer and he’s pretty sharp. It’s a good test coming back to see where I’m at. It’s also an opportunity to make a statement and show everyone I’m on my way back.
“I haven’t had a fight in eighteen months or so. I’m looking forward to getting on the big stage and not fighting an opponent that I’m expected to just bowl over.
“I’m more than confident that I have Rocky’s measure and I know what I need to do to beat him.”
Hindsight is often seen as a powerful tool for assessment. For Lucas, the ability to look back and assess the road less travelled has allowed him to appreciate how far he’s come.
“For me, for the past seven or eight years I have dedicated the best part of my life to the sport,” he concluded.
“Stepping away made me look at life from a different perspective, I guess. I have a young family so I needed to make sure I was in a good position and see where my head was at.
“After the break, obviously boxing was the one thing I felt was missing. Being in a professional, your mind has to be good.
“You have to be tested and put into situations where you have to lift and you have to get through it. There are things that develop you as a fighter and that makes a difference early in your career.
“This is a fight I am very confident with. I know where his head is at and I’m gonna exploit it.”