Lee Mould faces the prospect of producing the fight of his life to bring the English welterweight title back to Wearside.
The Sunderland boxer challenges for the vacant belt in Blackpool tonight against Adam Little, the hometown fighter with the perfect record.
Mould starts as the slight outsider at the Hilton Hotel but he knows the task in front of him.
“I need to be at my best if I’m going to be the champion,” he told the Echo.
“My performance can’t be anything below 100 per cent.
“We have a game-plan and I’m totally focused.
My performance can’t be anything below 100 per centLEE MOULD
“Training has gone well, everything in fact has gone great, so there can be no excuses.
“I’m just looking forward to getting in there to fight.”
And fight is the key word for the 25-year-old known as “Lightning Lee” and “Mackem Mexican”.
Little is acknowledged as a clever and smooth boxer and Mould will need to knock the Lancashire lad out of his rhythm from round one through to 10.
“Pressure,” was the succinct answer from the Mal Gates-trained fighter.
“Little likes to box and has a good jab and I know I need to put him under pressure.”
Mould can box, though his approach is more scrap than style.
“Mal will tell you I can box, but when I get in the ring I just seem to start fighting,” he smiled.
“But the gameplan is there and I’m going in there to carry it out.”
It looks a potential ‘fight of the year’ between two boxers bang on form.
Both go into the contest as Area champions, Mould winning the Northern version in a derby thriller with Craig Dixon in Gateshead and Little beating Yorkshire’s Ryan Hardy 98-94 at the Hiolton Hotel.
They look well matched, Mould unbeaten in eight with seven victories and a draw, while Little has won 12 out of 12.
Little has two stoppages on his record – the same number as Mould – and has 61 rounds under his belt, 24 more than the South Shields-trained boxer.
A points decision looks probable and Mould has no concerns about being on ‘foreign’ soil.
“It’s just a ring to me,” said the former Hylton Castle ABC star.
“I don’t think being the away fighter makes it harder and I hope the judging is not harsh.”
The pair weighed in well inside the welterweight limit at the seafront hotel.
Mould was 10st 4lbs, with Little just half a pound lighter.
It was the first time the rivals had met and all passed off with the utmost respect being shown by both parties.
“That sort of thing is not for me [needling the opposition,” he said.
“I think me and him were solely focused on the job ahead.
“At the end of the day it’s inevitable there is going to be a fight so what’s the point of any daft behaviour?”
Mould will have Gates and Shaun Wilson in the away corner tonight but he also has Harton & Westoe Welfare gym team-mate Anthony Nelson alongside him.
Commonwealth champ Nelson has already trodden the English title route and Mould said: “It’s good to have Anthony around.
“He won his English title in his ninth fight and I’m now looking to do the same.
“I’m chasing him.”