By Simon Plumb
Boxer Brian Minto insists his nose is bruised, but not broken, ahead of Saturday's fight against rising New Zealand talent Joseph Parker.
At the best of times, it's difficult to decipher fact from fiction in the world of professional boxing, particularly in the immediate lead-up to a fight. The last two weeks of promotion for the Parker-Minto clash have been no different.
There's been scuttlebutt aplenty, allegations of drug-taking, drug testing which fell through, a supposed perforated ear-drum and a dispute over one fighter wanting to use so-called "cheat's" gloves.
Such storylines have emanated from, and been peddled by, the two relative camps under the watch of promoter, Duco Events.
However, the issue of Minto's nose hasn't come from the same, internal sources.
Last week Fairfax Media reported Minto had undergone X-rays to determine the damage caused by a blow he took from Commonwealth Games-bound Kiwi, David Light, during sparring.
At a press conference in Auckland today, Minto said there is no fracture and while admitting he took a shot in sparring, Minto says the issue is just "a bump".
"It's just not true, it was a bump on my nose and yes, I did get hit in sparring but my nose is not fractured. It's bruised," Minto said.
But, clearly, it's troubled him enough to have it checked out. It's also clear that amidst all the allegations and enforced build-up, that this is the actual story so far.
For Parker, the situation represents a clear crack in the defence of a fighter easily capable of not only testing his promising credentials, but silencing a partisan Kiwi crowd - just as Minto did six months ago when he beat Shane Cameron.
And the opportunity, the significance of the chink in Minto's armour is not lost on Parker.
"I think it's a very, very bad time for Minto to have problems with his nose. It's probably going to be my main target on Saturday night," Parker said.
"I've heard he got caught with a good punch in sparring. He says it's not broken, but it will still hurt. It will still be tender for him.
"But, even if he has a sore nose and is hurt, Brian is a good fighter, and he has heart. When he gets knocked down he just stands back up again and keeps going. I know that he won't give up.
"I know he will carry on no matter what. But, I'm feeling great, we've had a tremendous training camp. I feel a lot leaner and confident."