Zac Dunn on making history and building a solid home base

AUSTRALIAN boxing is littered with examples of fighters who have taken their careers abroad too early, only to return to little or no fanfare.

Twelve months ago, undefeated super middleweight Zac Dunn found himself in that very same position. Hot on the heels of a career best win over credible Ukrainian Max Bursak, Dunn signed a long-term deal with US-based promoter Joe DeGuardia and his promotional entity Star Boxing.

What followed their celebrated partnership was a wake up call of sorts. The Melburnian survived an early knockdown before labouring to a closely contested split decision win over well-travelled veteran Derek Findley in New York.

The bruises from that fight have since sealed, but the scare turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the hard-hitting Melburnian and his team. After a year of rebuilding, Dunn (22-0, 18 KOs) now finds himself on the cusp of history as he aims to become the first Australian in 26 years to lift the Commonwealth super middleweight title on Friday night.

“I felt I got too comfortable before my fight against Findley. There were little things that would throw me off,” said Dunn in an interview with Aus-Boxing. “I know that next time I get the opportunity, I will walk straight into the change room, avoid sitting in a relaxing couch or recliner – and sit on a hard chair – and get my mind on the job and get ready to go.”

“After my last win, I thought I was ready for a world title shot – or at least a big hit out – but it didn’t eventuate.”

“I was pretty frustrated, so the last half of the year I have just been doing some different stuff in the gym, mixing it up and also doing some of my own stuff. I feel you need to keep the love for the game or otherwise it gets too frustrating when things don’t go to plan.”

Despite being in only his fourth year as a professional, Dunn has quickly come to terms with the difficulties of landing marquee fights. With that in mind, Dunn has looked at a more simplistic approach to his training in order to reignite the passion he once had for the game.

“I feel now I have found the love for boxing again, I have gone back to the basics,” he explained. “I have concentrated on the things I use to do at the beginning of my career, I’m focusing more on the pure side of boxing.”

“The past couple of years I have done quite a bit of strength and conditioning. You can find yourself off track sometimes and forget about boxing. Right now I feel like I’m ready to fight for the Commonwealth title, I can’t wait.”

Across from Dunn will stand unassuming Englishman Liam Cameron. Not signed to a major British promoter, Cameron (19-4, 7 KOs) is aiming to make a name for himself abroad off the back of an upset win at The Melbourne Pavilion. But as far as Dunn is concerned, his Sheffield-based opponent is merely a springboard to an eventual title fight in the US.

“If all goes to plan, I will win the Commonwealth title and keep myself Australian based for a while,” he added. “When the opportunity comes up, I’m hoping that I am back over there fighting for a world title against the likes of Giovanni De Carolis or Badou Jack.”

“This guy, he thinks he’s tough. He thinks that the quality of boxing in Australia is nothing like English boxing. I’ve watched him, he’s got big uppercuts but he doesn’t like mixing it up though. He has some tattoos on his face and he thinks it makes him tough. It’s going to take more than just some tattoos on your face and where you’re from, he’s gonna need to be able to fight.”

“He hasn’t done his apprenticeship like I have, but I’ll never underestimate a fighter.”

“I feel that winning the Commonwealth title will mean I have accomplished what I needed to for the year. I’m ranked number six by the WBC currently and a win will hopefully bump me up a little higher in the rankings. Believe me, I’m happy to wait for a world title shot, but if the opportunity comes up, I’ll take it.”

At the ripe age of just 25, Dunn sees himself approaching the prime of his professional career. But as many fighters before him can attest to, patience is a virtue when looking for major fights. The way that Dunn and his team see things, as long as he is mentally equipped and still in love with his day-to-day profession, he will succeed in reaching his lofty goals.

‘I just want to keep loving the sport,” he concluded. “It’s a patience game – and I’m being really patient – I’ve built my resume as fighter.”

“I’ve seen Australian fighters get to the position that I’m in now and not fight for twelve months. Suddenly, they get called up for a world title shot and they aren’t ready. I don’t want to make that mistake. I want to have my three fights a year, which will keep me ticking away and active. If I do get that call for a world title shot, I’ll be ready.”