Newcastle-born Lewis Ritson hopes a win against Scotty Cardle will lead to a homecoming fight, believing, together with Sunderland's Josh Kelly, they can bring big-time boxing back to the northeast of England.
Ritson, 24, makes the second defence of his British lightweight belt this coming Saturday against former champion Cardle at The O2, having blown away Joe Murray inside one round in Manchester just three weeks ago.
The unbeaten puncher, although adamant that this fight will be his toughest to date, is confident of victory and hopeful of setting up a “dream opportunity” to win the Lonsdale belt outright on his home turf.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Ritson said:
"This is definitely my hardest fight yet."
"We expect Cardle to run around, frustrate and be tricky on the back foot, but we are confident we have the gameplan to convincingly win.
"We are definitely not overlooking Cardle, who is a very good boxer, but the goal is to win and then get the British belt for keeps.
"Paul Hyland Jr is my mandatory so he would probably be next or you have the Sean Dodd vs Tommy Coyle winner, the lightweight division is packed so there’s no shortage of options.
"Whoever would come next, I’m not too fussed, but to win the British outright on a big card at home in Newcastle would be amazing. I’m getting a lot more attention up there now so it would be great to bring a show home.
"With Josh Kelly as well, if we get through our fights, there’s no reason why Eddie won’t have us both on a North East show. The fans are great and if we can sell out the arena, I’m sure we will back time and time again.”
Ritson, nicknamed "The Sandman" is trained by David Binns and managed by Phill Jefferies and has earned himself a reputation as a knockout artist following back-to-back highlight reel stoppage wins over Robbie Barrett and Murray.
Despite that, the 24-year-old revealed he does not always simply go on the knockout hunt.
"We were surprised at how quickly we got Murray out of there,” Ritson continued. “He fought completely the wrong fight and paid the price.
"I’m smart in there and always go in nice and relaxed. I’m not just set on getting a KO, if it presents itself then of course I will go for it.
"It’s brilliant to be back in the ring so soon. I had just finished a hard camp ahead of the Murray fight so have just done a few extra weeks on top of that.
"We’re ready to go and to be fighting at The O2 is really exciting, I just want this journey to continue."