Australian Olympic hero Harry Garside makes his long-awaited return to the ring on Wednesday in just his second professional boxing fight.
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But Garside is not shying away from a challenge despite his lack of experience at the professional level, facing off against Manuer Matet (4-1) for the Australian lightweight title.
The bout main events tonight at Sydney’s iconic Hordern Pavilion, with Garside looking to build on his first-round TKO win over Sachin Mudaliar in his pro debut.
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That was way back in December and now the Tokyo medallist is ready for his greatest challenge yet.
Matet, who lived in refugee camps before moving to Australia when he was 13, currently provides for his family as a “warehouse worker” on top of his boxing commitments.
“He’s (Garside) got everything,” Matet told foxsports.com.au earlier in the week.
“Me, I’ve got nothing. I have to put the food on the table for my family. I work, I train at the same time. This is my first week off.”
That added motivation makes this a “very dangerous” fight for Garside according to promoter George Rose.
“Manuer is a great fighter,” Rose told Fox Sports News on Wednesday morning.
“That is why it is worthy of the Australian title. Massive ask for Harry Garside in only his second pro fight. We saw his debut back in December and he was fantastic but I think he wanted to show more.
“It is exciting for us as the Australian public that we get to see what else Harry Garside has to offer and it is the best opponent he could get in Australia in Manuer Matet.”
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And Garside is ready for the challenge, even if his sleep is interrupted by a peculiar habit.
“I struggle to sleep Tuesday night because I’m so wired and ready to go, but I’ll try my best to have a good night’s sleep on Tuesday night and be ready to go,” he told foxsports.com.au.
“My partner does say that I throw punches in my sleep, especially in fight week, and I throw them all the time because boxing’s what I do, but I definitely throw punches in my sleep.”
“We’re lucky we have a big bed. She just moves over. I always notice about a week out, even when I am awake, just notice your body turns, you’re preparing for battle, you’re preparing for war, and your body has to psychologically move and adapt and I love that, I live for this week and it makes me feel alive and it actually feels natural.
“This is what humans do, this is what we’ve done for thousands of years, is be in combat, fight, and survive, and that’s what boxing is. I live for this week.”
While it would have been easy for Garside to challenge less experienced opponents and give himself a better chance to build momentum in his pro career, he has taken a tougher route.
“It’s so dangerous,” Rose said.
“There’s not many other people that would take a fight like this. Harry Garside is the champion of Australian boxing and he wants to prove it the hard way, he doesn’t want to take any easy fights and that is what I love about him.
“I love guys who want to take the hard fights and really put on a show.”
Garside’s first professional bout lasted just the one round but Rose said both fighters are preparing for a much longer scrap this time around.
“Both are supremely confident in their fitness and what they can do in the ring,” Rose said.
“Speaking to Manuer’s team, they are confident they can wear Harry down and get him in the end. I know Harry is one of the fittest blokes I’ve ever met in my life.
“What he does in his training, his running, he could probably be a marathon runner if he wanted to. He’s also confident he can go the distance. I am absolutely pumped about this, both think they will win it in the back end of the fight.”
Garside himself is preparing for the fight to go deep, predicting he will get a late stoppage win.
“I think it’s going to go deep,” he said.
“He showed in his last fight that he’s tough. He’s obviously never been stopped. It’s going to be a good, hard fight. I’ve never fought anything over three rounds. I hope it goes deep, it’ll be a good fight then. I want to see what it’s like to be going eight, nine, 10 rounds.
“But I predict a late stoppage for sure.”
FULL FIGHT CARD
Harry Garside vs. Manuer Matet (Australian lightweight title)
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Blake Wells vs. Renold Quinlan
Alex Lual vs. Aaron Kay
Hassan Hamdan vs. Ryan Cotten
Kate McLaren vs. Pam McClelland
Daniel Harwood vs. Tyler Blizzard
Shanell Dargan vs. Ashleigh Sims
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