A little over a week and a half out from her Saturday fight against Judit Hachbold in Atlanta, Avril Mathie was in a Home Depot in her adopted home state of Florida, continuing various home improvement tasks that have kept her busy between training sessions.
And seemingly also risked her hands before fight night. But she wasn’t worried about an errant nail or hammer keeping her from her ninth professional fight.
“Oh, I'm careful,” she laughed. “The most punishing thing was painting. My hands were cramping from holding the paint brush for so long.”
In other words, she wasn’t going to put herself in bubble wrap until fight night. There is life to be lived, and the 34-year-old is intent on living every minute of it, even if she didn’t have an opponent at the time of this interview. That wasn’t an issue.
“I've been here enough times to know, and you've just gotta have faith, too,” she said. “You just gotta train a hundred percent as if you were training to fight a world champion and see what turns up.”
What’s going to turn up is a matchup at Center Stage with Hachbold, who, at 5-14, isn’t likely to put a dent in Mathie’s 7-0-1 record. But a fight’s a fight, and with each win, the Australia native is getting closer to a world title shot, perhaps by this time next year.
“Maybe even sooner than that, who knows,” she said. “Boxing can be political, so it's just about trying to speak to the right people to get the right fights to make those opportunities happen. But I think as far as my record and the way women's boxing is, in my next fight I could fight for a world title belt. It depends on the opportunities that get made.”
Playing devil’s advocate, I wonder out loud if she would take a title shot if a champion at 118 pounds showed up to Atlanta instead of Hachbold and offered her the biggest fight of her career.
“Honestly, if I was to have a title shot, I would want to have a full training camp knowing who I'm fighting to prepare for that fighter,” Mathie said. “I feel like the other person would want that, too, because that's how you make the best, most entertaining fights happen. And why do we fight? We fight to put on a show and put on our best performance. You just don't want to show up. Yeah, I've been training, I'm fit, I'm ready, but if you're gonna fight someone of top-level talent, you want to be training for that person.”
Yeah, I think she’d take it, too.
“I really wouldn't turn down a big opportunity like that.”
That’s a fighter talking, and if you needed more proof, consider that she left her home in Australia for the United States a little over six years ago to pursue a career where nothing is promised or guaranteed. In fact, she was rolling the dice, but it was a move she deemed necessary if she was going to succeed in the ring.
“We just don't have a population of people, especially people with money in Australia, that can support boxing and make it a primary sport,” Mathie said. “Even our best boxers typically have other jobs and it's not a viable career in Australia. Our biggest sport over there is rugby, everyone watches that, and there's not enough people to support another sport. Whereas in America, there's such a huge population of people here, and eyes equal money to advertisers. So it doesn't matter if those people are rich or poor, as long as they turn on their TV and watch. Then, that's a lot of eyes on a sport, which is a lot of eyes to advertisers, which means a lot more money can be spread amongst the fighters and create some more opportunities.”
In any walk of life, it’s said that knowledge is power, and in boxing, knowing how to throw a jab or left hook is one thing; knowing how the business works is another, and if you are able to combine the two, this can be a viable career path.
“The more you know, the further you're gonna go, really,” Mathie said. “There are those guys out there that have good teams behind them that have this information, so if they don't have it, it doesn't matter because they've got good people that they can trust guiding them and getting them the same opportunities as those who also understand. But then boxing is also a bit of a sharky world too, so you also have people taking advantage of these people, and you never want to be the person that's being taken advantage of. So, like I said, the more you know, the further you'll go. And then, look at the other side of it - you've got guys like Jake Paul who completely understand the business side of it and walked in with no boxing experience whatsoever and are able to make more money than most people in the sport. And a big reason is because they understand the business side of it and are able to manipulate it to create their own opportunities.”
Mathie, who admits that her modeling career helps finance her boxing career, will get those opportunities if she stays on the path she’s on, and while having to supplement her fight purses with other gigs comes as a surprise to some, that’s her reality.
“They don't understand how boxing works,” she said. “Until you get to that top, top level, and even when you get there as a female, you're still not making that much money. I hear and I hope that Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano made good money on their last fight, but that's talking about the top, top, top. Anything below that is a nice little holiday fund, but it's not livable. And also, for me personally, my biggest stick with boxing is injuries. So because of that and then also that opportunities are here and there, even if you get a decent paycheck, having regular enough fights to keep those paychecks coming is difficult.”
Doesn’t sound as glamorous as it does to some, does it? So why does Mathie do it? That answer is simple.
“Because I love it, it's fun,” she said. “I don't do anything I don't like doing. But if something's fun, it's all I want to do.”