WARREN Baister, Olympic boxer.
The Sunderland heavyweight’s dreams of seeing those four words become reality edged a step closer on Saturday when he won the GB Championships in London.
The gifted Sunderland fighter turned on the style to defeat England representative Ben Llyemi 23-9 in a one of the best finals of the day at the famous York Hall.
“It would be unbelievable and I’m trying hard to imagine it,” the 26-year-old said when asked about the prospect of reaching London 257 days from now.
Boxing five miles along the road from the Olympic venue Baister was under pressure to perform at the big domestic tournament
And how he delivered and he will now hope to get selection to the final Olympic qualifier in Istanbul in the spring.
Baister came through a tricky semi-final on Friday night and barely 24 hours later he produced the goods against the dangerous Llyemi.
And while he didn’t excatly have to do it the hard way, the manner of his success was very satisfying AND entertaining.
“It feels fantastic to be the champion and a relief,” he said.
“I’ve had a quiet year and a half because I damaged my hand right at the back end of 2009 and I’ve had injury problems.
“But I’m starting to get warmed up again now.”
He certainly is, even if the Sunderland ABC star seemed to play into the Londoner’s hands in the first of three explosive rounds.
Baister has great skill and handspeed but allowed himself to be dragged into the trenches by Llyemi.
Built like Clubber Lang from Rocky III, Llyemi clearly loved a scrap and Baister obliged.
And while Baister found the target with some nice lefts to the body and straight rights to the head, his opponent scored too as round one ended 4-4.
Baister needed to keep it long and straight and that’s exactly what he did.
He looked a million dollars as his sharp head shots opened up a 12-6 lead and, thankfully, avoided the huge right haymakers from Llyemi which could have knocked him into next week.
Lleymi came forward, again, in the last and scored with a couple of solid right hooks. If Baister required a reminder to get back to his boxing those two shots were probably it.
A big right and a volley of follow up punches prompted the referee to step in and hand Llyemi a standing eight count.
Baister then controlled the remainder of the contest, winning the last 11-3 for a 23-9 triumph.
“I sparred with Ben once before and I didn’t expect him to be that strong,” said Baister. “He was really physical in there, really strong.
“After the first round I knew I really had to lengthen it up a bit and break him down and it worked.
“I always fight like that in the first round, I don’t know what it is about me.
“I seem to get into a battle in round one and I end up slugging it out but then find my range and start to pick my opponent off.”
Baister’s success was one third of a cracking championship hat-trick for the region.
Newcastle light-heavy Lawrence Osueke used his long-range shots to good effect to beat Scotland’s James Cunningham 26-6.
And Hartlepool star Amanda Coulson won the lightweight title when she defeated Olympic rival Chantelle Cameron (Northampton) 22-17.