If I told you that you could change your life within a half-hour, but you only earned the right to that half-hour opportunity after years of sacrifice and brutal physical punishment, would you take it?

On Saturday night, I fight Jeff Horn in the ‘The Battle of Bendigo’. Up for grabs are the WBA Oceania Middleweight title, the Oriental Middleweight title and the vacant Middleweight Asian-Oceania championship. All are essential trophies for the mantel. But there’s something I want more.

To beat the best. Become a world champion. And it starts here.

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Yes, I’ve fought more prominent names in Peter Quillin and Kell Brook, however, beating Jeff Horn makes a huge statement. It says that I’m the best in Australia, which gives me the attention I want from overseas.

I took a lot of lessons away from the loss to Kell Brook last December at Sheffield Arena. It showed the level that I’m at and what I need to do to become a champion. Since that fight, I’ve come back and worked on the things that I understood I have to improve. Now I’m a top competitor and a bigger, stronger, hungrier fighter.

Jeff’s last fight was a Round 1 win against the ‘ageing bull’, Anthony Mundine. That fight and my bout against Kell Brook happened within a week of each other. We experienced what many would say were contrasting fortunes. He won, and I lost. But what did Jeff learn fighting a fading champion who is well past his prime? All 1 minute and 36 seconds of that fight proved nothing to the public about either fighter. More telling, Jeff probably learned nothing new about himself. Victories like that can feel hollow.

I do understand why Jeff fought Anthony. He helped put boxing back on the map in Australia, so I want to fight Anthony too! But I want to be known as the bloke who forced him into permanent retirement on my way to becoming a champion. No disrespect to Anthony, I’ve got a lot of respect for what he did for the sport but he’s well past his use-by date.

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Since the Kell Brook fight, I’ve beaten Jeff’s fellow Queenslander Les Sherrington, and Jeff’s coming into this fight after that Mundine ‘win’.

Jeff recently admitted that he’s not as hungry as he used to be. I’ve got no idea why he’d say that coming into the fight given he needs to win to have a shot at Ryōta Murata. Jeff even accused me of being arrogant in the way that I think. For the record, I don’t think Jeff’s an easy beat, and he made a lot of Australians proud when he beat Filipino icon, Manny Pacquiao. But I know I’m going to win this fight.

A journalist recently asked what I perceive to be the most significant challenge that I have faced as a boxer.

That’s simple to answer.

The biggest challenge is yourself. Your hardest opponent is yourself. You have to keep telling yourself to keep going. It’s a lonely sport, boxing. You try to find that drive to keep pushing, and you keep telling yourself, “One more rep”, “One more day” or, “One more sprint”, whatever it may be. You cannot give in to that inner voice that tells you to quit.

Boxing is a sport built on hard work and dedication. No matter what it takes, I’ll get it done. If it seems impossible, I’ll work until it gets done. These other guys, when it gets tough, they give up, they quit and look for other options, or they look for someone to blame. For me, I try to better myself every day and be at least one per cent better. I know that my ultimate goal is to become a world champion, so whatever it takes to get there, I’ll do it. A lot of other people don’t have that mentality.

There have been plenty of early mornings when I haven’t wanted to get out of bed. I force myself to get up. It’s freezing in winter in Melbourne in the early mornings, and my breath condenses into vapour as I pound the pavement. Barely a soul is around, and the streets are quiet. Like it is in the ring, I’m alone. But I’ve got a job to do; train to become the best.

I enjoyed playing other sports growing up. I didn’t like school all that much. I played local Australian rules footy, and I love the sport, but I just loved the idea of the hard work and dedication of boxing; what you put in is what you get out of it. To fight and get the opportunity to be number one in the world. Knowing that you’re a fight away from changing your family’s life financially, it just motivates me so much.

Boxing also allows me to give back. I love the idea that I can have more money than I know what to do with. It’ll give me a chance to help those people that can’t do things. I wake up some days and think “Shit, I’m having a bad day”, but then I think there are so many other people out there, people that are blind or people that can’t walk, so I train, I compete… I box for those people as well.

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I’ve got a lot of people who believe in me, and I’ve got some great support from my sponsors; Everlast, Powercore Fitness, Elite Performance Massage, Talk Think Change Psychology Services, Greenvale Dentistry, the list goes on. Friends and family, every day they see what I go through and the work I put in. Once I’m in the ring, it’s all about what I can do to win, but without all this support, I can’t do what I need to inside the ring.

Just how big is this fight against Jeff for me? Put it this way; I win, and I get a chance to take my gloves to North America and test myself against the world’s elite boxers. There is a lot of attention on this fight so Jeff must be eying the same chance.

I’ve earned ten three-minute rounds on a Saturday night in Bendigo against Jeff. I’ve taken the punishment, made every sacrifice a boxer can make, and I’m very, very disciplined.

Now, I have that half an hour to change my life.