Matty Askin believes the outcome of his clash with English cruiserweight champion China Clarke will make or break his career.
The pair meet at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool on April 20, and Askin says he cannot afford to lose.
12 months ago the 24-year-old was riding high and many expected him to go on to big things in the 14st 4lbs division, but defeats to Jon-Lewis Dickinson and Krzysztof Glowacki have forced him to rebuild.
And he says another setback will make him to assess his future. “If the worst happens and I do lose this fight then I think it’ll be the end of my career, especially after the two other defeats,” Askin said.
“It’s all or nothing for me and if I fail this time then it’s game over.
“I took the last defeat badly so I’m training harder than ever now. I feel like I was playing at the game these last few years, but now I’m taking it seriously again and I intend on showing people everything I can do on one night.”
Askin and Leeds’ Clarke may live at opposite ends of the Pennines, but they know each other well after spending time as gym mates under the venerable Brian Hughes in Collyhurst, Manchester.
“We sparred each other for about two years so we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” Askin explained.
“I was only about 19 or 20 then so I was just kid really, but I’m a man now and he’ll feel the force of that next month.
“I’m sure we’ll be pals again after fight, but for ten rounds friendship will go out of the window because once I’m in that ring I’m there to hurt him.
“I do feel he’ll have to come up with something special to beat me, because the way I’m training at the minute I’m struggling to see how he stands a chance.”