Thomas Essomba is ready to take on the world – but he knows he must take care of the pride of Wales before making the next step.
Essomba makes the maiden defence of his Commonwealth flyweight title in London tonight, against unbeaten Swansea fighter Jay Harris.
if I could fight for the world championship I would. I feel ready to box for itTHOMAS ESSOMBA
The Sunderland boxer, made the underdog by the bookies, is confident he can see off the hard-hitting 26-year-old.
Success tonight at the York Hall will move the two-time Olympian a step closer to challenging for the World Championship.
“My first dream is to bring this belt back to Sunderland,” he smiled. “I do believe I can fight anyone in the world.
“If I had to defend my title again I would, but If I could fight for the world championship I would. I feel ready to box for it.”
The city has never had a world champion, but the 29-year-old looks perfectly equipped for the task.
Not that he is not taking his eye off this evening’s fascinating Sunderland v Swansea match.
The bout has the makings of being an absolute belter – both men have boxed less than 10 times, Harris ahead on nine straight wins (his last six by KO) with Essomba having seven victories in eight outings, two of his successes coming early.
“I have only seen Jay’s first fight, so I can’t really judge him on one contest,” said Essomba.
“His record is very good, nine wins and six knockouts.
“He must be good but, again, it’s hard to judge, I will get to see how good today and he will definitely get to know me too!”
Harris does indeed look good and given his last four opponents have all had winning records, he can’t be accused of only hammering dummies.
There can be no questioning the power in his hands, though the boxer plays it down, but there must be doubts over his staying power.
Harris has never been beyond four rounds and, potentially, he may have to go THREE times that distance tonight. Essomba has been eight, 10 and 11 rounds, the latter being his demolition of Waleed Din to take the vacant title.
The Phil Jeffries-managed star’s best bet would appear to avoid the early bombs and take Harris into unchartered territory where he could use his nous and endurance.
He is not short of power and his body shots could be a telling factor late on.
“My experience must help me,” he said. “I am 100% confident I can go all the way to 12 rounds. Jay might be good but he has not done those rounds.
“I am strong and fit.”