Michelle Preston. Photo / Supplied
Michelle Preston called time on her fighting career having achieved everything she had hoped to. Claiming multiple world titles in Muay Thai, she was ready for the next challenge.
But after four years away from
the ring, the 43-year-old returned this year with one goal in mind: boxing glory.
This weekend, Preston has the opportunity to move a step closer to achieving that against Thailand’s Phannaluk Kongsang as part of the King in the Ring card in Auckland on Saturday night, with the winner staking their claim to a shot at the WBA super flyweight world title .
For UK-born Preston, the comeback has been swift. She only made her return in May with a split decision win over Holly McMath in a performance she said lei answered a lot of questions.
“That was probably my worst fight ever, or at least it felt like it,” Preston told the Herald.
“It was one of those fights I just wanted to have and get out of the way; that first fight back where you’re thinking, ‘can I still do this, have I still got it, what happens if I don’t win ‘, with all those insecurities and questions, you question yourself. So, to come out with the win, that cemented my decision and go,’ OK, I can still do this. We’re good and we’ll continue with the plan ‘.
“If I’d have lost, I’m not quite sure what I would have done and whether the plan would’ve gone ahead or not, but I’m not a quitter so I’m sure it would.”
Fighting out of Auckland’s Elite Thai Kickboxing gym, Preston wasted no time to get the gloves back on – returning to the ring early last month against Nicila Costello, claiming a unanimous decision win and the vacant WBA Oceania title.
Preston, currently ranked No 5 in the WBA world super flyweight rankings, said there was a change in mindset between the two fights. After picking up the win in May and getting that reassurance of her abilities di lei, confidence has not been an issue moving forward.
“When I went into the next fight, I knew I was going to win. I knew what the outcome was going to be and it was a given that I was going to continue going forward,” she said.
“That’s the exact same mindset I’ve got for this one – stand out of my way because it’s mine and I’m coming for it.”
A boxing world title has been something that has alluded Preston to this point in her career. In 2012, she traveled to Argentina to take on Debora Anahi Dionicius for the vacant IBF belt, losing by unanimous decision.
The pair met in Argentina once more in 2016 with the belt on the line, but again her Argentine counterpart prevailed.
While she didn’t come away with the title, Preston said she learned a valuable lesson from that second encounter.
“I had over-trained for that fight,” she said. “I’d overcooked myself, so when I got in there it was almost like I was on the downhill slope. I had peaked too early then got in the fight and it was like, ‘oh, OK, I don’t feel like I’ve got much in me ‘, because I had over-trained for it.
“There’s a very fine balance; you have to do a lot of training, but you can’t overcook it. This time around it’s boxing only. There’s no switching codes so it’s my 100 per cent focus.”
Preston’s will be one of two major stand-alone bouts among the King in the Ring superheavyweight tournament on Saturday night, with Navajo Stirling taking on Australian Jessie Astill for the World WKBF Professional Heavyweight Title.
‘King in the Ring: the superheavyweights’ takes place at Eventfinda Stadium in Auckland on Saturday September 10 (7.30pm).