Josh Baillie insists he won’t be found wanting after landing a surprise shot at the Midlands super featherweight title.
Baillie and Leo D’Erlanger have been paired for a crack at the now vacant crown, which has been relinquished by James Beech Jr.
The 10-rounder makes up one of two battles for a belt on BCB Promotions’ bill at the Deco in Northampton, with fight night set for Saturday May 25.
It came as a shock to Tamworth-based Baillie, who is originally from Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria, but one he intends to capitalise on.
The 33-year-old has an erratic pro record of five wins and five defeats, but has boxed far and wide including long trips overseas.
‘The Boss’ travelled to Australia for his first three fights, winning two with a debut TKO. Only future national champion Miles Zalewski got the better of him, on points.
Baillie then went to China to take on Can Xu, losing a narrow points call to a man who went on to become a WBA Oceania and International titleist.
He returned to England to resume his career and outpointed Qasim Hussain and Alex Hughes, falling to his first stoppage defeat in the third to Lee Appleyard in-between.
He lifted an eight-round British Challenge strap in his next outing, by retirement after five rounds with opponent Manny Zaber suffering a cut.
A second TKO loss then came in the third against Marco McCullough, before a spell on the sidelines that would last until earlier this month.
Baillie took a short-notice affair against John Green, which went the full six rounds. He again lost, but pinched a round on the score-cards along the way.
It turned out to be a warm-up for London-born D’Erlanger, himself a veteran at the age of 35. His co-challenger has racked up 14 pro bouts with nine wins, two losses and three draws.
‘The Lion,’ who is originally from the capital but now resides in Banbury, Oxfordshire, now presents an obstacle Baillie must overcome to make his dreams come true.
He said: “It’s brilliant news and really unexpected, I’ve been in and around contention for the Midlands title before but now it’s finally come off.
“Things pop up in boxing, so you always have to be ready to go. I intend to grab this chance, with both hands, and run with it.
“I boxed earlier this month and, although I lost, I was glad to be in there again. I hadn’t boxed in 18 months and that’s a long time to be out of the ring,
“I’d lined a few things up, there were three fights in London that didn’t come off so I ended up going to Newcastle on two days notice.
“I was a bit rusty early on and I certainly couldn’t get into it, to start with. I kept getting myself into position and not pulling the trigger.
“Something seemed to click, in the fourth round, and I gave it a good go from there. I came alive and took to him, as well as I could.
“I think I could have had him, had it been an eight-rounder, so I took positives and that’s all that matters to me.
“Records are for DJs, if you look at who I’ve lost to then you’ll know I’m not afraid to take tough fights away from home. I’m fearless, in that respect.
“I know he’s a good little boxer and he’ll be well up for this one, but so will I. Some people will expect him to walk through me, but I know he won’t.
“I’ve got a good team around me, who I’ve got every faith in, so we’ll get our tactics right and come up with a game-plan to follow.
“If I don’t give this opportunity my best shot, I won’t be able to sleep peacefully at night. All I’m thinking of is walking away with that belt.”
The main event at the Deco will pit Northampton’s own Nathan Reeve against Craig Derbyshire for the English super flyweight title.
The Far Cotton Boxing Club graduate, who has previously challenged for English honours at flyweight, tackles the two-weight Central area champion, from Doncaster, over 10 rounds.
Two Northampton cohorts feature elsewhere on the card in the home corner, along with Ricky Hatton’s protege Chris Blaney.
Welter Curtis Felix Jr has notched eight victories and is undefeated, including a stoppage of Jack Green on his paid bow.
His older brother Dominic Felix, who his nine years his senior at age 39, resumes his efforts at light heavyweight with a win, loss and a draw on his record.
Middleweight Blaney, who will have former two-weight world champion Hatton in his corner, returns to action just 20 days after his last outing.
‘The Ginger Ninja,’ who has been lined up for a shot at the Irish crown, boxed to a draw with Owen Jobburn. It came after 11 victories, with three TKOs, and just one defeat. He takes on BCB’s Tom Stokes.
Kieron Conway also now features.
Tickets are on sale now priced at £35 standard, £50 on the balcony and £65 ringside, the latter option to include a buffet. For more information and to buy, contact the boxers.