Newcastle boxer Kyron Dryden says anyone hoping to see him get knocked out will be “waiting a while” when he returns to the ring on Saturday night.
Dryden was found guilty in January last year of grabbing his ex-girlfriend, Tori-Lee Hillery, by the throat, pushing her head into a mirror and slamming her onto the floor after he discovered her at another man's house. He then called her a “stupid slut” in a film of the incident he posted on social media.
He was sentenced to a four-month intensive corrections order in Newcastle Local Court, lost a subsequent appeal and was suspended from boxing by the Combat Sports Authority.
The court order and CSA ban ended in January, and now the International Boxing Organisation youth (under-26) welterweight champion is the main drawcard on a fight night at Wests City on Saturday night.
Dryden, who maintains he is innocent, has more than 300,000 followers on his prank-filled Facebook page and told the Herald on Thursday that he felt he had the “whole city behind me just about”.
But the 23-year-old from Mayfield also said he was prepared for some negative reaction to his comeback.
“If they don’t want to support me, that’s on them,” he said. “If they want to pay to come and watch me lose, do that if you want to do that.
“If you want to see someone knock me out, you’re going to be waiting a while. If people don’t like me, come watch and hope I get beat. It’s not going to happen at this level.”
The CSA cleared Dryden to return after deeming him a “fit and proper” person.
“The CSA regulates in accordance with the Combat Sports Act 2013, setting out the requirements for registration and the appeal mechanisms for decisions made,” a CSA spokesman said in a written statement.
“The Act requires that the CSA must refuse to register an applicant as a combatant if it is not satisfied that the applicant is fit and proper and provides for disciplinary action to be taken against registered persons including suspension and cancellation of a person’s registration.”
Dryden, who has not fought since November 2015, said he had lost sponsors after his conviction but was now focused on positioning himself for a fight late this year against Cronulla’s World Boxing Council youth welterweight champion, Jack Brubaker.
“When you cop everything I copped on TV and the radio every single day, you sort of just not care after a while. I’ve got the whole city behind me just about anyway now. It’s all behind me now. I’m just ready to move forward.
“Everything’s going back on track. I’m still the champion. I’ve still got the belt. They haven’t stripped me. I don’t know why. They just stood by me.
“The Brubaker fight is already getting set for the end of the year. If I win that, I’ll be the biggest name in Australian boxing. Mundine and Green have retired, and somebody’s got to take their spot. That puts me there.”
Dryden (eight wins, one loss) will fight 40-year-old Thai Vachayan Khamon (10-14-1) on Saturday night after his intended opponent, Shellharbour’s Adrian Campbell, withdrew this week.
Dryden’s twin brother, Darkon, will fight on the undercard.
Newcastle’s Scott Edwards was due to defend his NSW welterweight belt against Balgownie’s Alex Ah Tong, but that fight has been cancelled.