YOU WOULD THINK SPARRING THE LIKES OF JACK ASIS would be enough to test your footwork and your hand speed but Toowoomba's Australian champion Brent Rice has taken it to the next level.
It might not of been by design but Rice can head into his Brayd Smith WUC title fight on March 10 confident his footwork, reflexes and hand speed are all on song thanks to two separate encounters out west.
Rice combines his boxing career with his work as a tordoner for Rice Timber Control. His jobs takes him away for weeks on end and usually out west. Last week he as well as his father and trainer Bobby were working near Tara on the Western Downs completing their daily jobs Brent encountered the first of two very frightening and deadly encounters with local wildlife.
"We were walking along and I looked down and I had a tiger snake slithering in front of my feet," Rice said.
"Dad actually pushed me out of the way and I was able to move my feet quickly enough so it didn't get me.
"I very easily could've been bitten.
"Maybe all the sparring and dodging a fleet footed guy like Jack Asis might of helped me..."
If an encounter with a highly venomous snake wasn't enough..Rice then had another frightening encounter with another highly venomous predator - a redback spider.
"I was at the shops after work and felt something under my shirt crawling on my back I quickly ripped off my shirt and found a redback spider," Rice said.
"Like the tiger snake I was again very lucky, thankfully I wasn't bitten.
"You couldn't script this sort of stuff, it was two very close encounters and in many ways I'm lucky to still be here.
"Getting bitten by a tiger snake or a redback spider can be fatal.
"They say things happen in three's here's hoping my run ins with snakes and spiders ends at two."
It's hardly what you would call an 'ideal preparation' but this is the norm for Brent Rice. Work hard, train hard - make sacrifices and ultimately make your desire outweigh your distractions.
Working all day on foot in the blazing heat, dodging snakes and spiders along the way, then after work training in old sheds, running through paddocks, even attaching boxing bags to trees.
So far, so good - Rice is undefeated in seven fights and the reigning Australian Super featherweight champion.
This prep he's conquered the snakes and the spiders - next in line is the Machine.
Rice will take on Brendan 'the Machine' Saunders in a five round bout for the Brayd Smith WUC title on March 10 on the TGW & Smithy Bring the Big Fights 19 card.
Saunders is an Australian and IBO Oceania lightweight champion.
"With our preparations it's simply a case of - by what ever means necessary," Rice said.
"We make the most of what we've got.
"When we're out west we mightn't have boxing rings or a gym to train out of but we've got what we need and it works for us.
"I believe Brendan Saunders is the biggest test of my career to date.
" In his last two fights he's won an Australian title and an IBO Oceania title - he's a good fighter.
"It's a challenge I'm looking forward to.
"To fight for a Brayd Smith title means a lot to me.
"I really looked up to Brayd, he always helped me as an amateur and to have the opportunity to fight for a title named after him is a huge honour.
"Brendan Saunders is adamant he's coming to Toowoomba to hand me my first defeat but I'll be doing all I can to ensure that doesn't occur."
Brent's father and head trainer Bobby expects his son to rise to the challenge on March 10.
"This a significant challenge there is no question about that," Bobby Rice said.
"However from the amateurs right through to the pro's Brent has always proven the bigger the challenge the harder he works and the bigger the occasion he steps up his performance.
"I believe this will be no different.
"Brent needs to be at his best on March 10 and I'm confident he will be.
"One thing we know after dodging snakes and spiders - there's nothing wrong with his footwork, reflexes and hand speed."
Event Promoter and Rice's Manager Brendon Smith believes this bout has the makings of a fight of the year contender.
"It's a champion vs champion showdown," Smith said.
"Brent is an Australian featherweight champion and Brendan is an Australian lightweight champion.
"That says it all.
"This is a showdown between two of the very best in the country."