WARREN Baister flew out to the World Amateur Boxing Championships in Kazakhstan today ready for the biggest challenge of his career so far.
The 28-year-old is part of a 10-strong Great Britain squad preparing to compete in the biggest amateur boxing tournament outside the Olympics.
And the Sunderland Amateur Boxing Club star says he is determined to make his mark by punching his way to a gold medal.
He told the Echo: “It has been a tough couple of years for me with narrowly missing out on the Olympics and then losing a year of my career to a really serious foot injury.
“But I’m back now, I’m ready as I’ll ever be and I can guarantee I’ll give it my very best shot.”
Baister, though, will face a tough task up against the world’s best amateur heavyweights.
And fighting in the same competition will be two boxers who got the better of him on his return from injury this year.
He said: “I’ve recently come back from a major tournament in Turkey – regarded as the warm-up event for the Worlds – with a silver medal.
“I lost on points in the final to a Turkish boxer – Seder Kesser – but I honestly thought I’d beaten him and I’d fancy my chances against him outside of Turkey.
“The one to watch out for is the Russian, Alexei Egarov, who I lost on points to in the European championships and who went on to win the gold.
“But it’s an open competition and it just depends how it goes for you in your individual bouts and having returned from a good training camp in Germany with the rest of the GB lads, I’m well up for it.”
Baister flew out from London this morning to Almaty in Kazakhstan and he and his team-mates will have the rest of the week to acclimatise before the draw this weekend.
“Depending on how many people are competing in each category, you can be fighting anywhere between five and seven times if you are going to win gold,” Baister said.
“So if you win it, you’ve definitely earned it!
“I’m just glad of the opportunity. I’ve had loads of support from back home and from the boxing community and I’m grateful as ever to my employers Gentoo for backing me and allowing me the time off work to represent my country.”