Zane ‘Hybrid’ Hopman (right) in boxing mode — he will be fighting under K-1 rules on Friday night. PHOTO/FILE

JAKE BELESKI

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Masterton’s Zane ‘Hybrid’ Hopman has acted as a trainer for other fighters in recent weeks, but on Friday night he will make his much-anticipated return to the arena.

Hopman — from the Fortitude Thai Boxing Club in Masterton — will compete in the ‘King in the Ring’ eight-man event at ASB Stadium in Auckland, alongside seven of the best cruiserweight fighters (86kg weight division) in New Zealand.

The event sees the fighters split into two pools, and they will then face off in a knock-out tournament.

To win the title, a fighter will have to win three fights in one evening.

Hopman has fought in the event twice before, and said he was raring to go after an injury-plagued last couple of years.

“I’ve been really happy with my camp.

“I just prepare myself as best mentally and physically as I can, and just go in knowing you’ve done the hard yards and you’ve just got to put it into action and adapt in the moment.

“It’s about trusting your fitness and skill-set to get the job done.”

A draw will be held on Thursday night to determine which fighter Hopman will face in at the quarter-final stage, but he wasn’t worried about who he might come up against.

Whoever’s name comes up, he will be ready.

“If you go in worrying too much about who you’re going to get and wanting to fight one person over another, it will just do your head in.

“Whatever happens you have to win three fights in the evening to be crowned king in the ring.”

Hopman has had 12 weeks to prepare since he was confirmed as a fighter for the event, and hasn’t left any stone unturned.

His nutrition and training have been perfect, and he was hoping to reap the rewards tomorrow night.

“I didn’t want to peak too early or carry any injury in.

“It’s a touch-and-go game that you play in the lead-up.”

He said if he were to win his first fight he would expect to have a rest of 45 minutes to an hour before fighting again, with an even shorter break if he were to advance to the final.

It is set to be a test of endurance for any fighter who makes it past the quarter-final stage, and there were certain rules every fighter would have to adapt to.

“It’s fought under K-1 rules, which is slightly different to full Muay Thai.

“K-1 is purely striking, so it’s hands, kicks and single knees, and no clinching.”

It would be an outstanding achievement if Hopman were to take the title, after a knee injury forced him to pull out of his fight for the New Zealand Professional Boxing Association’s cruiserweight title earlier this year.

Hopman has had his fair share of knee troubles in recent years — including a full ACL reconstruction on his right knee last year — but said his body was ready to cope with whatever may be thrown his way on Friday.

King in the Ring is live on Sky Sport 1 from 7.30pm on Friday night.