When Justin Frost (12-2-1, 4 KOs) reached the final bell with a broken hand against Blake Minto (14-3-2, 3 KOs) in March, pundits were quick to heap their praise.
Specifically, he was commended for the toughness displayed. After all, standing toe to toe with another supremely fit athlete is a tough enough challenge without a compromising injury.
The ‘Iceman’ hasn’t been in the mood for compliments since that night, however.
While the pleasantries might come from a place of good intention, they do little to counteract a source of pain with no physical symptoms – losing.
Suffering a loss is just that. Whether it be a lack of attention at the box office, or the mental anguish caused by not meeting expectations, fighters suffer repercussions when their hand goes unraised.
The latter of these rings accurate and true for the 32 year old.
“I think I got to show people how tough I am or whatever, but it’s not really worth taking a loss to show people you’re tough,” Frost told The Inner Sanctum.
“All it takes is for you to have a loss and then people can turn their back on you pretty quickly.
“It’s such a stressful sport because of that reason. People worry about their ‘o’ so much.
“It’s so different to say a footy game. The footy team goes out and have a loss, but nobody stops barracking for them. All of their supporters say ‘oh, they’ll win next week.’
“At the end of the day, it’s your career.”
There is also an ambivalence that comes to Frost’s mind when prescribed with such niceties. Truth be told, he knows he’s tough.
It might be more accurate to say that he isn’t aware of any other way of life, though.
As a member of the Australian army, the adopted Queenslander has served in East Timor and Afghanistan. In both conflicts, there has a committment on his part to the hardline values typically associated with a soldier.
A broken hand, then, was always going to have little bearing on a hardened mind.
“[I went to] East Timor in 2010 and Afghanistan in 2015,” he elaborated.
“East Timor, that was more of a peace-keeping mission, nothing too much happened when I was there. It was kind of the end of that era.
“We were basically there keeping peace, making sure Indonesia didn’t invade and making sure there wasn’t any riots or crazy s**t happening in that country.
“Afghanistan was obviously different, that was a full on war.
“I have the traits that come from being in the army, courage and integrity, that are grilled into me. It’s just sort of engrained in my blood now, being a soldier.
“I do notice that if I do compare myself to people around me or if I compare myself with other fighter’s mentalities, I do feel like I do have a little extra strength.
“I don’t know any different, I don’t know what it’s like to not have been in my shoes, if that makes sense.”
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Losing then, is what stings most. Not so much the manner, nor the injury, but the after effect.
Having won the IBF Asia Oceania Super Lightweight title in the final bout of his amazing trilogy with Waylon Law (12-9, 3 KOs) in March of 2021, Frost looked set to start a climb through boxing’s regional and World rankings.
Thanks to multiple reschedulings of the Minto meeting and subsequent loss, this never came to fruition. As a result, he was forced to step back a few spots in the pecking order.
Despite this, Frost is not someone to dwell on his shortcomings. Instead, he has been intent on bouncing back.
Injuries and all, the plan to return was hatched as soon as his last bout concluded.
“Even though my hand was broken and busted up, I started training the next week,” Frost recalled.
“It’s obviously been a bit of a long road, but it’s good now. I’m super fit, my hand’s feeling good now, but it was a battle to get there.
“I’ve had to go through plenty of doctor’s appointments, injections, pain killers – you name it.
“That first couple of months of training was one handed. I just did whatever I could, but it’s good now. Training’s good. I feel real good now.”
The task at hand is therefore a straight forward one.
To get back to the position he was in before the Minto fight, Frost must beat Townsville’s Dean Thomas (6-2, 1 KO) in their July 9 main event.
More importantly, he has to claim the Australian Super Lightweight title for a third time in his career. Although the physical belt itself holds little weight now, the symbolism behind it is still of the utmost importance.
Adding another to the trophy to the cabinet, one that signifies his place as Australia’s best, is a necessary stepping stone to fights with implications for the World rankings.
It also serves as a timely reminder to the nation’s boxing public that there is still fuel in the tank that is Frost’s career.
“I just want to get back to the position I was in,” he proudly concluded.
“The actual belt and the trophy of it, I’ve got a couple. That’s not what’s motivating me. What’s motivating me is coming back from this loss, making sure I remind people of who I am and what I can still do.
“I feel like a lot of people doubt you, especially after a loss. People doubt what you can do and how good you really are.
“I’d have the same feeling about this fight, whether it be for an Australian title or not.
“It’s more about a statement for me.”
Justin Frost vs Dean Thomas will headline ACE Boxing Group’s July 9 show. For tickets, click here.
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