Just 18 months ago Radivoje Kalajdzic was told he would never ever box again and even got a day job with his dad, until Google saved his career.
Now, the Bosnian-born brawler is challenging IBF Light-Heavyweight Champion Artur Beterbiev in Stockton, California on Saturday 4th May, live on BoxNation.
He was one of the division’s leading lights after a controversial loss to Marcus Browne on April 2016, and a World Title shot seemed imminent when he stopped unbeaten Travis Peterkin five months later.
What he thought was a niggling hand injury worsened and led to almost two years out of action and a promising career in tatters.
Not enough blood was getting to one of his knuckles and ‘Hot Rod’ was told to forget boxing even when he underwent stem cell therapy to repair the injury.
He explained: “When I was off in 2017, I got myself a regular job. The doctors told me I would never box again, so I was working with my dad building manufactured homes.
“I had a real bad hand injury in my right hand. I had avascular necrosis in my joint in the middle knuckle.
“The bone was dying – it wasn't getting enough blood. Doctors told me I would never fight again. There's no cure for that. I was so depressed,” he explained.
“After the Peterkin fight, I was fine, but the problem builds up over time. I went back to the gym and felt a little pain and each week it kept getting a little worse.
“My joint started getting stiffer and stiffer and I couldn't make a fist. But I Googled it and I got therapy and that helped – that did the trick.”
Since returning from injury last summer, Brad Austin and Alex Theran have both been blown away inside a round, taking his record to 24 wins and a single defeat.
Kalajdzic moved to St Petersburg, Florida when he was seven years old and has trained at home for his big challenge when he attempts to derail one of boxing’s biggest punchers.
He added: “I've been sparring local guys, and I brought one guy in, but I don't like to name my sparring partners. This guy was in Beterbiev's camp for his last fight, and they didn't want him to come.
“Beterbiev is a strong, come-forward guy. He hits hard. That's about it.
“I try to land that one punch in the first round to see how the person reacts. I'll do the same thing with Beterbiev, I'll just be more cautious. I'm going to show more boxing skill in this fight.
“If they're looking at my old fights, the old Rod, they're going to have a surprise.”