Australian boxer Lucas Browne is the new heavyweight champion of the world, but his journey to conquering the sport has been far from typical.
The 36-year-old – who came from the clouds to beat Ruslan Chagaev and claim the WBA heavyweight championship in Russia on Sunday – did not make his fighting debut until 2009.
Instead, Browne, a rugby league junior at Parramatta at one stage, worked on the doors of some of Sydney’s hardest nightspots.
During a 13-year bouncing career, he was in his fair share of scraps and was even shot at while working at a Revesby venue.
It wasn’t until his ex-wife and kids moved to Perth that Browne, then 29, thought about fighting seriously.
And less than seven years after his boxing debut in modest surroundings at the Manly Leagues Club, he is now the toast of the boxing world.
Making Browne’s feat more remarkable is that he looked down and out after being knocked down, and cut, during a shaky sixth round against Chagaev.
The latter stages of that round were a matter of survival for the tattoo-covered Browne, but his riposte was swift – and outstanding – as he landed a range of right uppercuts in the seventh.
That Chagaev responded himself was no surprise – after all, he entered the fight with a 34-2-1 record – and one of those losses was to Wladimir Klitschko.
He shaded the next two rounds but the blood-stained Browne – promoted by Ricky Hatton and trained by Jeff Fenech – ended the fight in the 10th.
First, he put his opponent on the canvas with a brutal blow, silencing the crowd, and then, sensing the moment, followed up with a flurry of shots to the head.
That forced referee Stanley Christodolou to call a halt to proceedings, handing Browne the latest victory in a seriously impressive career.
Watch Browne’s sensational finish below
The history maker
Browne, known as ‘Big Daddy’ for his imposing 196cm and now-113kg frame – he has lost weight – initially dabbled in mixed martial arts as well as boxing.
But he switched his attention to boxing only in late 2010 and quickly began to rack up the victories.
After 11 straight successes on home soil – 10 by knockout – he started to fight abroad, with trips to Manchester and Hong Kong sandwiched by further bouts on home soil.
The wins continued to flow, highlighted, until his latest triumph, by successes against the previously undefeated Andriy Rudenko and ex-world champion James Toney, and Sunday’s victory gives him a 24-0 record – with 21 knockouts.
It’s a statistic that now makes Browne one of the most in-demand figures in boxing.
Australia has waited over 100 years to have a heavyweight champion, with Bill Squires the first to challenge – way back in 1907.
Bill Lang, Joe Bugner, Kali Meehan and Alex Leapai have also failed, giving Browne a place in the annals of Australian sport.
Browne also became Australia’s first Commonwealth heavyweight champion in 122 years after beating Canada’s Eric Martel Bahoeli in Sheffield in April 2014.
Boxing’s disjointed nature means there is also a WBC heavyweight champion (Deontay Wilder), an IBF one (Charles Martin) and a ‘unified’ champion – Brit Tyson Fury.
The Aussie’s next fight is already locked in and will come against 42-year-old Fres Oquendo of Puerto Rico.
If he can defend his title, a clash against either Fury or Klitschko beckons – as would a seriously large payday.
And Browne reckons he has both covered, if previous comments are anything to go by.
On Fury, he told FoxSports: “I don’t think he has got the chin to hold my power.
“Unfortunately he does have the reach, he’s six-foot-nine and very long and quite agile for a big boy.
“It wouldn’t be an easy task whatsoever but I think if I did land three or four good shots on him, I think it would be ‘good night’.”
In a 2014 interview, Browne said he would make life uncomfortable for Klitschko if they ever fought.
“I think I have the skills, the power, the anger to give Klitschko a very hard night at the office…yes,” he said.
“(I would) put him in a place he’s not used to, push him around, bully him, bash him like you’re in a school…that’s how I would do it.”