TC Priestley (3-4, 3 KOs) will enter the ring on Friday night in a position that would not have been out of place in the film Groundhog Day.
Two fights ago, he took on and stopped Ben Dencio (8-3, 5 KOs) for the vacant Australian Super Featherweight title. Just over two years later, the pair will meet in a rematch for the same vacant championship on the undercard of Capital Fight Show’s Brock Jarvis vs Nort Beauchamp event.
In Priestley’s mind, the fight will be anything but a repeat of the last bout. He will not be making the walk having counted his chickens before they have hatched.
He cannot afford to be complacent, because the consequences of being over-confident to the point of arrogance in the fight game are far too severe.
“I try not to go in with the same mindset. I try not to think ‘oh yeah, you stopped him before you can just stop him again’,” he told The Inner Sanctum.
“I feel if I get too confident and think ‘I’ll just knock him out again’, I’ll probably end up being the one getting knocked out.
“I’m going in as if he’s a fresh opponent I’ve never faced before and just taking him as a new person.
“The last couple of weeks I’ve just been thinking ‘he beat me last time’, trying to get into my head that I’m the actual challenger.”
Far from suggesting a lack of appreciation for his own talent, the 31-year-old does take comfort from the result of the past meeting with Dencio.
To TC, there is a mental edge that comes from knowing what his opponent is capable of and that he has the tools to counter everything coming his way in the rematch.
“It is confidence boosting that I’ve already fought him. I’ve got his measure with his speed – he’s hit me with his power, he’s hit me with his speed and I’ve watched him.
“He fought not long ago and he didn’t really change much at all from when I fought him.
“I know he’s going to come and he doesn’t stop coming forward. I’m the type of fighter that likes that kind of challenge, like ‘if you’re going to come forward, I’ll match ya!’”
More Boxing News
Coupled with the advantage of familiarity has been an elite level professional training schedule for the upcoming bout.
Priestley has lived and breathed boxing in the past few weeks, taking his training north-east from Moree to Kingscliffe on the New South Wales and Queensland border.
It was here that he worked alongside some of Australia’s finest boxers of the lower weight classes, such as the Moloney brothers Jason and Andrew, Luke Boyd and Bruno Tarimo.
“I went up there for 2 weeks and stayed there with them,” he told.
“Waking up every day, training, living, breathing it, just in a professional environment. It was really good to take away everything from it.
“(Dencio’s) a pressure fighter, so I’ve been sparring Bruno who’s probably the biggest pressure fighter I’ve ever experienced in my life.
“I’ve gone about 30-40 rounds with him and 30-40 rounds with the Moloneys, so I’ve got the boxing side down and I’ve got the pressure side down.”
There were also some mega-stars of sports and boxing present during his time at the gym.
“It’s not only the Moloney brothers. You’ve got Barry Hall coming into the gym and Danny Green was there. So it was just really professional.
“I picked up a lot out of it. A lot of good skills, training techniques and stuff like that.”
Putting on a high-level display of the already existing and newly acquired skills will be top priority come Friday night, as all eyes turn to the fight card being broadcast on Fox Sports and Kayo.
While the opportunity to fight in front of a national audience is a special one, the heightened attention of boxing fans will not be on Priestley’s mind.
Focus will instead remain on his opponent.
“It is exciting, but I try not to let it get to me. I just try to focus on who’s in front of me – focus on who I’m fighting not where I’m fighting.
“I don’t wanna let it get ahead of me where the event is more exciting than the actual fight and get distracted from the actual fight itself.”
His mentality then, is single minded – be present in the moment and fight the man in the opposite corner. The past is irrelevant and all that matters is the next step forward.
It can be summed up by a rather simple sentence, one that has been repeated by Priestley to those that have spoken to him in the lead up to the fight.
“I think it’s going to be a good fight”, he surmised.
Capital Fight Show – Jarvis vs Beauchamp goes down on Friday April 23 and will air live on Fox Sports and Kayo