Former rugby league bad boy John Hopoate steps back in the ring on Saturday when he goes toe-to-toe with ex WBA heavyweight champion Lucas Browne.
Hopoate, who was once suspended for 17 matches for an incident that saw him knock Cronulla Sharks prop Keith Galloway unconscious, has not been in the ring since being knocked out by Paul Gallen in February.
The former Manly Sea Eagles, Wests Tigers, Tonga and Australia star took this fight on just four days notice and will face the 40-year-old at St Mary’s Band Club in Sydney on the undercard of the Kye MacKenzie’s lightweight rematch with Francis Chua.
Hopoate holds a 12-6 professional record as a boxer but has only won just one of his past five fights, while Browne – who won the WBA heavyweight title in 2016 when he defeated Ruslan Chagaev – comes into this bout on the back of a loss to Dave Allen at the O2 Arena in London in April.
Browne was quick to defend Hopoate for taking the fight, he told World Wide of Sports: “The dude’s got more balls than most of you people who won’t step up into the ring.
“So, 100% credit to Hopoate for accepting the fight – thank you.
“On four days’ notice, his opponent pulled out, I didn’t have an opponent so it just made sense.
“Thank you very much to Hopoate for letting me have a fight. It’s been six months without a fight and on four days’ notice he stepped up. Absolute champion and legend of a bloke. It’s what Aussies do.
“I’m just happy that I’m fighting. I’ve been training for six months and I just don’t appreciate all the bullshit coming back towards Hopoate for this.
“It’s gonna be a fight, it’s the heavyweight division, you never know what’s gonna happen.”