By Duncan Johnstone
New Zealand world-rated light-heavyweight boxer Robbie 'The Butcher' Berridge is getting a bit ''hangry'' as he restricts himself to salads in the buildup to his title defence in the land of XXL portions.
The impact of the strict diet ahead of his fight this weekend against unbeaten Russian Vasily Lepikhim in Bethlehem on the outskirts of Philadelphia in the US was telling in practice.
Berridge was running hard on the treadmill and delivering some extra sting in punches landing on trainer Cleve Langdon's pads.
Coping with the dangerous combination of hunger and anger was all part of the job for Berridge though, who had to drop three kilograms before Saturday's weigh-in.
That wasn't easy in a land of temptation where the Americans delivered their food in large proportions, often sacrificing quality for quantity. While his support crew were tucking into the local fare with gusto, Berridge was having to stick to salads.
The 29-year-old Aucklander was confident he would reach his weight goal. He's been through this enough to know how to time his run at the scales.
"Yeah, it's going well," he said, ''but I'm tiring of the salads. Even those are twice the size ... it's ridiculous."
Berridge planned an instant reward once he got off the scales.
"I'm going to go and eat one of those famous Philly burgers. It's my job to keep my weight down. So I just stick to that and then after my weigh-in I will go and hammer a big burger."
Berridge was lapping up the sights and experiences of his first trip to the United States, but he certainly wasn't losing focus.
He knew the importance of this fight, where he would put his WBO Oriental and WBC Asian belts on the line and risk his No 9 ranking with the respected WBO organisation.
Talk of a world title fight continued to swirl around Berridge, a fighter dubbed ''The Butcher'' because of his ruthless approach in having 20 of his 24 wins come via knockouts, mostly through his lethal left hook.
Lepikhim loomed as a serious challenge. He was unbeaten and tall, though his willingness to fight on the inside rather than make good use of his reach, would suit Berridge.
Berridge was joined on the card by New Zealand heavyweight Joseph Parker who would fight American Keith Thompson.
Both fights were on a card that would be televised in the United States, exposing them to a huge audience. The fights would also be televised in New Zealand.