It is an unavoidable guarantee of a professional boxer's career that there is much hardship and adversity before the eventual reward. Despite being the youngest active Irish pro, James Power knows plenty about this cruel fact.
The Cork teen always dreamed of competing in the paid ranks. Having taken up the sport at the age of nine, his grandfather and uncle's infatuation with the sweet science soon rubbed off. By the time he was ten, the goal was to follow in the footsteps of the stars they watched on television.
Reality soon dealt Power a body-blow. In 2018 while doing his Leaving Cert, Power was 17, too young to apply for an Irish boxing licence and so fought in Mexico where he shone twice with two knockouts. Flirtations with a promotional company came to nought when they had their Irish licence suspended.
"Monday to Friday I was training alone," Power tells Balls.ie. "Saturday, up to Dublin training with Pete Taylor in the Colosseum gym with the other Irish lads. There was a good atmosphere on Saturdays but Monday to Friday I was alone again."
"I had to take a few risks. Two of my fights were on 24-hour notice. I came home from school and my mother said 'your bag is packed. Get on a plane, you are going to fight'."
View this post on Instagram
Power is speaking from his new base in Californa, where he has relocated ahead of his return to Tijuana this Saturday for the fifth fight of his career. There he is being facilitated by the Sheer Sports management group, who also look after Irish puncher Jason Quigley and the McKenna brothers.
"It is nice to have an official training camp," he says with a chuckle. "Everything was scheduled, set out. It is just good to get an insight into the life of a proper professional athlete. A set training camp, structure. I have really enjoyed this. I am having a ball."
The landscape in the Republic of Ireland was such that post-Leaving Cert, Power was doubting his career prospects before it had even begun. It all changed when he took the initiative and reached out to Sheer Sports.
A lot of people were saying go to college, get your degree, do four years. It was a tough time and I am realistic. At home, what was my situation? I could not pursue my dream. Professional boxing just wasn’t… it just was not an ideal situation.
if I am going to do it I will do it properly. I will not half attempt it. It is not the person I am. If I do it, I go all in.
This week is a chance to demonstrate why all the effort has been worth it. Under the tutelage of former heavyweight contender Courage Tshabalala, his craft has been honed and his mindset is positive.
Ireland may not have the infrastructure but it does have the support a pro boxing career needs. James Power experiences that every single day.
"It is funny, I have a message almost every day from people back home. Just checking up, asking how LA is and how I am getting on. Words of encouragement and reassurance. All that helps.
"My friends ask 'do you miss home?' But with that support through social media and everything, it feels like home anyway."
And with a viable path now established, the lightweight is hoping to give them something to be excited about on Saturday night.
"What I am looking forward to starts on Saturday night, displaying the improvements I have made. All the hard work we have put in. All those little things we worked on. Doing what I want to do, just performing."