Thomas Essomba has brought Commonwealth title glory to Sunderland.
But manager and promoter Phil Jeffries says the next target will be to fight for the world championship at the Stadium of Light.
I think he’ll go from strength to strength, I do believe he can go on to become world champion.
Essomba became the first fighter from the city since the legendary Billy Hardy in 1996 to win the Commonwealth belt.
The 27-year-old, who made Sunderland his home after settling in the country after the 2012 Olympics in London, clinched the famous belt after stopping Waleed Din in Rotherham on Saturday night.
Essomba went into his rival’s backyard to challenge for the vacant flyweight crown and produced a sensational performance to stop the previously-unbeaten Sheffield fighter in the 11th round.
The former Cameroon international was already well on top and when he floored the 22-year-old for the third time in under 90 seconds, his corner threw in the towel with referee Steve Gray stopping the bout.
It was a great moment for Essomba, Jeffries, coach Sean Casey and the fans who had made the journey to the Magna Centre from Wearside.
And Jeffries, who has financed the boxer’s career since his move to Sunderland, is thinking big.
“I think he’ll go from strength to strength, I do believe he can go on to become world champion,” Jeffries told the Echo.
“I’ve been telling anyone who’ll listen to me that this kid is special and now he’s proved it.
“He boxed perfectly, I think he showed the experience he had compared to the other kid.
“I am chuffed to bits to have a Commonwealth champion, especially for Sunderland, he’s from the city and loves it here.
“It’s 20 years since Billy Hardy was champion, I am so happy, he’s a great kid.
“But this is just the start. My dream would be to get him a world title shot at at the Stadium of Light.
“Sunderland has never had a world champion but I believe Thomas will be that man.
“I hope the whole city now gets behind him because he’s a great kid and now a great champion.”
Jaffa told the Echo that he would sit down and plot the way forward with Essomba and coach Sean Casey.
Certainly there will be a defence or two for the unbeaten star, who won for the sixth time when he battered the brave Din into submission
There is scope for a possible North East derby with the Commonwealth champion at super-flyweight Anthony Nelson, from South Shields.
“They’ll never take the fight in a month of Sundays,” said Jeffries. “We’d love it but they won’t entertain the idea.
“We’ll enjoy it for now and this week we’ll sit down and discuss which way we are going to go.
“I want him to be busy and would love him to be on the undercard of Martin Ward’s British title challenge next month against Jazza Dickens at the Rainton Meadows Arena.
“But we’ll let the dust settle and then see what we’re going to do.”
Jeffries hailed the work of coach Casey and thanked unbeaten North East fighter Tommy Ward for his sparring sessions with Essomba and Neil Fannan, the trainer of the Ward brothers.
“Credit to Sean and the BO gym for getting him in the shape he was in,” said the Wearside fight figure.
“Sean takes him all over for sparring, but the best we’ve had has been on he doorstep with Tommy.
“Credit to Tommy and Neil for coming down here - Tommy has sparred with Thomas and Neil went in his corner to assist Sean.
“It’s been a great ta effort from everyone.”