By Liam Napier
For the past 16 years, punching a bag or bloke has been Shane Cameron's daily routine.
From his first amateur fight as a 20-year-old in England to the pinnacle of his pro career - the deflating world title loss to Danny Green last year - it has been a gruelling, brutal ride, full of contrasting emotions.
Now, it's time for a break. After 14 operations and repeated punishment his mangled right hand needs to recover.
Body and mind requires refreshment so Cameron will take the best part of this year to rest.
"The body has taking a hammering the last few years," Cameron told Sunday News last week. "I'm in no hurry to lace the gloves up over the next few months."
CrossFit training has replaced bag work and sparring. But there should be no mixed messages about his future.
Cameron is not ready to retire; not for another two years, anyway. Not before he has given every ounce of desire towards any boxer's ultimate dream.
"I feel like I need a bit of a breather," Cameron said. "I know I can't do that for too long because I'll be too old to come back but I still believe I've got another two good years in the sport."
Recuperation for one final campaign aimed at closure starts now - and the door has been left ajar for a rematch with David Tua.
"That fight is always going to be there, I believe. It's a fight that I'm certainly not counting out," Cameron revealed. "Even though I knocked out Monte Barrett, which David couldn't, there are still demons there that need to be sorted out. I haven't beaten the man himself. I don't know if that fight will happen. It comes down to a lot of things. But I'm a competitive guy and I don't like losing to anyone. My goal is to fight for another world title before that."
After pocketing close to $375,000 for the Green fight and with his Northcote gym and youth programmes gaining traction, Cameron can afford to be selective about his next move.
While there is no rush, it is clear the fire within still burns. And, crucially, Cameron wants to continue for the right reasons; not for a need to put bread on the table.
"You've got to know when to say when. It's hard, especially when you haven't fulfilled your destiny, or whatever you want to call it. I haven't achieved what I want to achieve," the 35-year-old explains. "I hope we're not having this conversation in three years' time. If we are, everyone will be saying you've had enough.
"But I'm not ready to commit my whole life to the gym just yet. I'm still hungry to contest for another world title. Once I win it, then I'm happy. That's it.
"I'm very conscious of my health, too. I want to make sure if it's starting to hinder me I'll give it away, but I'm still firing on all cylinders at the moment."
On reflection, Cameron admits he was out-thought and out-muscled by old-fox Green. Dropping to 89kg - instead of cruiserweight (90.7kg) - didn't help his cause.
The weight issue means a rematch with the Australian four-time world champion is off the cards.
"I'll never fight him again at that weight - and he'll never fight me at my true weight," he said.
Coming back at cruiserweight could open more doors but, for now at least, Cameron is content to be patient.
Tags: Shane Cameron