KIRK Goodings will make the first defence of his English lightweight crown next month, fully confident that his boxing career is ready for take-off.
The 24-year-old told the Echo he has no intention of under-estimating fellow North Easterner Gary Fox when the two get into the ring at the Rainton Meadows Arena in a fortnight’s time.
But Goodings also believes that he can go higher over the next few years, as he looks to build on an impressive points victory over Middlesbrough’s Paul Truscott which earned him the title last October.
That fight took place at the Rainton Meadows Arena and, on Friday, March 7, Goodings will be back under the same roof in Houghton, making a bold first defence.
He has opted to take on Fishburn’s Gary Fox in a fight which will see Goodings go in as favourite.
But Fox is an explosive puncher and Goodings knows he is taking a risk.
“I could have fought more of a journeyman, looked to make an easy first defence, but that’s not what I’m about,” he shrugged.
“It won’t be an easy defence, but you don’t want to make an easy defence because then you are going back over.
“When you fight someone of Paul Truscott’s ability, it’s absolutely pointless to drop down in quality because you are going to learn nothing.”
Goodings says his confidence has been boosted by claiming that first title, having fought for the British light-welterweight title in 2012, only to narrowly lose to Stevie Williams, the only defeat in the Wearsider’s 11-fight career.
Goodings took that fight with only a few days notice and there were some who thought he had edged it.
He was disappointed, although he tried to take the positives out of it, but he says holding the English lightweight belt, with his name newly engraved on it, has helped take his sense of destiny to a whole new level.
“It was the greatest moment of my boxing career, an amazing feeling,” said the lad from Nookside, recalling his comprehensive victory over 10 rounds.
“It put into perspective everything I’ve done since I was 10 years old, all the sacrifices I made and the hard training I put in.
“It has all started to pay off.
“And now I’ve just got to keep training as hard as I can, keep doing what I’m doing and stay humble and I’m firmly convinced that other titles will follow.
“Being English champion is special for me – it’s a little bit of history that no-one can take away from me – but I don’t want it to just end there.
“I want to look at British, Commonwealth, European and so on...
“Everyone wants to be a world champion – that’s always the dream – and just here in the North East recently, look at Martin Ward who has won a world title shot.
“That was unexpected, but it shows it can happen and what I need to do most of all is the right things and focus on the belief that I’m going to go higher and higher.
“First of all, though, I’ve got the Fox fight and I know I’ve got to be professional and do my job and I’m confident I will.”
Tickets remain on sale for the show, topped by the Goodings-Fox clash, at Rainton Meadows Arena on Friday, March 7.
The bill also features Jonson McClumpha, Rob Ismay, Lewis Scott, Callum Winton, Tommy Ward, Paul Archer and Basi Razaq. Doors open at 6.15pm, with boxing beginning at 6.30.
Call 07984 199 363 for tickets.