When Oli Hawkins moved to Pompey last summer, he likely never envisaged he’d box a former European medallist.
But that’s exactly what the marksman did during the Blues’ pre-season tour in Cork on Tuesday.
Hawkins, Dion Donohue, Louis Dennis, Tom Naylor and Christian Burgess were all forced to fight kitman Kev McCormack.
It was the consequence the five players were forced to endure after losing the football tennis tournament at their Fota Island base.
Hawkins was the fourth in line to face McCormack – a bronze medallist at the 1993 European Championships.
The ex-Dagenham & Redbridge striker revealed he wasn’t nervous before going toe-to-toe with the Pompey stalwart.
He said: ‘I know what standard he boxed to but because it was hot he tired fairly quickly!
‘But it was funny. I tried to get a few jabs in but he’s a big lad.
‘I wasn’t nervous going into it.
‘It was a little bit of fun but I didn’t want to get a hook or anything like that to the face. It was a bit of fun and a good afternoon.’
However, Hawkins admitted he won’t be going toe-to-toe with McCormack again any time soon.
‘I’ve seen some of the videos of him and he was half-decent,’ the former Hemel Hempstead man added.
‘I definitely won’t do it again with him.’
Before the boxing, boss Kenny Jackett organised a football tennis tournament for Tuesday’s afternoon session. Each player was allowed a maximum of two touches and everyone had to touch the ball at least once before the ball could go over the net.
Teams were divided up depending on their age.
The winning side were the veterans of the dressing room, with Brett Pitman, Gareth Evans, Nathan Thompson, Danny Rose and Lee Brown clinching the success.
With the Blues unable to participate in activities such as golf and archery at the Fota Island base – and with an embargo placed on alcohol – it was an ideal way for the team to build some team spirit and camaraderie.
The game also helped Jackett’s troops improve their touch and close control.
The kick-off time for Pompey’s friendly against the Hawks on Saturday has been moved forward.
The match at Westleigh Park will now start at 12.30pm to avoid a clash with England’s World Cup quarter-final against Sweden (3pm).