IT’S a big step for the little man.
At next month’s Summer Rumble boxing show, Thomas Essomba - Cameroon by birth, Sunderland by adoption - will put the most distinguished of amateur careers behind him and embark on the first professional fight of his career.
The 26-year-old double Olympian though says he is so excited about the switch to the professional ranks, he cannot wait.
Essomba, who fights at light-flyweight (weight limit 7st 10lbs - the second lightest in boxing), has proven himself one of the best amateur boxers in his division on the planet over the years.
He represented his country in both the Beijing and London Olympics and the year before fighting in England was ranked African number one.
But London 2012 marked a sea-change in Essomba’s life when he decided to stay in England rather than return home.
The back story of how he ended up in Sunderland and training at promoter Phil Jeffries’ Olympian Gym in Leechmere Way is a fascinating one in itself - sleeping rough and in Salvation Army homeless shelters before being taken in on Wearside.
But Essomba - former captain of the Cameroon Lions boxing squad - is ready to move on with his story, just as he is ready to put his amateur days behind him.
His last fight as an amateur saw him lose in the English ABA finals but it was typical of his natural tenacity that he fought on despite suffering luckless injury in the fight.
“I was disappointed for it to end like that,” he says with a smile which shows he has already put it behind him.
“I had a hamstring problem which restricted me in what I could do.
“Without the injury I felt I would have won but the good thing is that it is healed now and fine.
I’m looking forward to the fight ahead.”
Essomba does not know who he will be fighting on Summer Rumble 4 - the annualboxing show which this year takes place on Sunday, July 13 at the Stadium of Light.
But the African says that does not concern him.
“Whoever the opponent is, my job is simple: my work is to fight and to win,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to the next stage of my career.
“All I know is that a winning boxer goes up the rankings and that’s all I’m concentrating on doing.
“I’m very, very happy here, living and working in Sunderland and training at Jaffa’s gym - he’s a good man.
“He has helped me so much and now I want to show I have a future as a professional fighter.”
H Tickets are available for the Stadium of Light Summer Rumble from promoter Phil Jeffries on 0774 7611020.