The year 2020 was a defining one in the career of Maitland’s Tyson Lantry. Following his second loss in a row in February, he bounced back off the ropes in monumental fashion in December against Luke Jackson.
In what was truly a case of the classic underdog story brought to life, Lantry edged a close decision win over the highly credentialed Olympic veteran and former World title challenger. Now, he will look to build on his hard work and aim to mix it with the elite of Australian boxing.
This is not to suggest that he wants to shake the underdog tag any time soon, though. Instead, he sees it as his to embrace.
“I’ve already lost before, so the pressure on me to keep the zero is gone. For me, I just get in there and do what I do and have fun doing it. I love this sport and I love this life that I live doing it.
“These big fights seem to bring out the best of me because these are the fights that I want. I want these big fights where I’m not supposed to win and I come out on top”, Lantry told The Inner Sanctum.
Stemming from his last bout, Lantry will now face the highly touted, Paul “Showtime” Fleming in a bout that is a part of Wednesday night’s stacked Tszyu vs Hogan card in Newcastle.
With great wins come even greater opportunities as the 27-year-old goes from biggest win to biggest fight of his career in consecutive bouts. The magnitude of hard work against the odds is not lost on him, however.
“We knew from the moment that we took the fight (against Jackson) that we were going to be completely overlooked and that the rewards that come from this were massive.
“It’s allowed me to get shots at massive fights like this.”
Obtaining such a high profile bout and a change of career fortunes generally, is owed in part too, to a complete overhaul in mentality. Without this, a streak of two losses could have quite easily turned to three.
“I think the biggest thing for me was mental. I was never there mentally for those two fights which are bad for me as a professional athlete.
“When it comes to fighting it doesn’t matter who is put in front of me. What matters is me turning up.
“As I’ve shown in the past, there’s two different me’s. There’s a me who is not focused and not doing what I need to do. Then there’s me who is focused and knows the job ahead of me.”
Moreover, Lantry is incredibly cognisant of the threat posed by his upcoming opponent.
After all, Fleming is yet to be defeated in 27 professional bouts and carries a pair of heavy hands that have led to 17 career knockouts. His patient style of controlling the ring and waiting for the perfect opening to land a vicious blow makes him a deadly opponent indeed.
Even with a spell of inactivity that has resulted in just three professional rounds in two and a half years for Fleming, Lantry knows that he is yet another challenger that should be met at their merits.
“I respect any opponent that’s coming in front of me. I don’t get easy and light fights. For me, if I didn’t respect them and if I didn’t acknowledge what they are doing then I’d be in trouble.
“It’s certainly not something where I go ‘they haven’t been in the ring for two years, it’s fine, we’re good.’ That’s not the attitude that I carry that’s for sure.
“Most of the time I’ve looked to turn up and do my job, and I’m sure they’ll look to do the same thing.
“In my opinion, a fighter’s in the gym 24/7, no matter what’s going on. He’s in the gym, he’s doing sparring, he’s doing everything that a fighter needs to. Most boxers live and breathe this life. It’s all they know.”
Come fight night, however, this overwhelming feeling of respect will be far outweighed by self-confidence.
Despite being cast as the underdog, Lantry is fully aware that he possesses the skills required to compete with Australia’s best.
“The thing that not everybody has seen out of me is my boxing ability. I proved in the last fight I can punch and come forward. My boxing IQ’s not highlighted very often but it will be.
“I think the easiest way to put it is that I belong on the big stage and we’re going to see it.”
Tszyu vs Hogan goes down on 31 March live on Main Event and Kayo Sports. Order here: https://mainevent.kayosports.com.au/