Nathan Reeve (12-2) insists he’s ready to become the hero of his hometown by becoming the English super flyweight champion.
Reeve, who is Northampton born and bred, tackles Craig Derbyshire (6-27-3) on his own turf in what could be a make or break contest.
Their battle for the belt headlines BCB Promotions’ bill at the Deco with fight night set for Saturday May 25, a bank holiday weekend.
They duel for the honours last held by Brad Watson, but he’s vacated to move up in weight to bantam. Derbyshire is going the other way to make super fly.
Reeve gets home advantage and a second chance at national glory, after he was outpointed by Louis Norman for the English title at flyweight in 2013.
It’s one of two defeats on the pro record of the 29-year-old, who was also beaten unanimously by Mike Robinson in a 2011 Prizefighter.
He spent nearly four years on the sidelines after the Norman setback, due to Achilles and hand injuries, but has racked up four wins since his return.
His return fight was a victory over Derbyshire, rolling over him in a four-rounder at the Deco by a margin of 39-37 with referee Kevin Parker.
Reeve’s ledger now contains 12 wins, with six TKOs, which is a stark contrast to Derbyshire’s tally of six successes, with two stoppages, 27 defeats and three draws.
Co-challenger Derbyshire, aged 27 and from Doncaster in Yorkshire, is a two-weight Central area champion, though, and shouldn’t be underestimated.
It could be now or never for ‘Thunder’ Reeve, a graduate of Far Cotton Boxing Club in his hometown, and he’s determined to succeed.
He said: “To have another shot at an English title, in my hometown this time, is like a dream come true. It’s going to be a great occasion.
“There’s a buzz about the place about this show, I’ve had people come up and tell me how brilliant they think it’s going to be.
“It’s the biggest title fight we’ve had in Northampton since Alan Bosworth fought Junior Witter for the British (2002, Witter won by TKO) all those years ago.
“For me, it’s what I’ve been working towards since I made my comeback. I’ve had plenty of support and I’m expecting a good turn out.
“My opponent is bringing some fans with him, as well, so it should be a great atmosphere in the Deco. It’s been a long time coming.
“Craig is a tough lad, people will look at his record and think I’ve got it easy, but I’m treating this like it’s going to be the fight of my life.
“I know what I’ve got to do, we’ve been in there together before so I’ve got a feel for his style but I’m fully aware that, this time, he’ll be coming to knock me out.
“He’s got a big right hand and he hits hard, so I’ll need to be switched on from the first bell to the last, which I’ve been training for.
“He’s won a couple of titles and he claims they are the only two fights he’s ever trained for. To win both of them, with the last one by TKO, shows he’s dangerous.
“This is a big opportunity for both of us, it could really open doors and lead to bigger things. I need to make sure it doesn’t pass me by this time.
“I’m not a spring chicken anymore, I’m 30 this year but I’m still pretty fresh, in terms of boxing. I’ve just got to make sure I perform to my best on the night.
“I carry a lot of power for my weight and, ultimately, he’s at my weight. I’ll do whatever I have to get the win. It could be pretty do or die.”
Also on the bill, Curtis Felix Jnr (8-0) will be in line for a shot at the English welterweight title if he can make it a perfect 10 as a professional boxer.
First comes a hometown warm-up bout on BCB Promotions’ bill at the Deco in Northampton, with fight night fast approaching Saturday (May 25).
Providing he comes through that unscathed, Felix will then move on to a 10-round eliminator for the national crown at the famed York Hall in London on July 6.
The British Boxing Board of Control have decreed that he’ll take on Connor Vian next, with the winner given an opportunity against champion Ekow Essuman.
Felix has his ‘0’ to protect, as he’s undefeated with eight straight victories, including a first round stoppage of Jack Green on his paid bow.
The 29-year-old, who was raised in Northampton but lives in Milton Keynes, followed that up with seven points successes.
Three of his wins have come under the Deco lights, with four at York Hall and one at the Tottenham Green Pool and Fitness Centre.
That success in Tottenham saw him complete a 10-round distance, outpointing Justin Menzie in an eliminator for the Southern area crown.
Most of his boxing grounding has come in the capital, as he represented the respected Dale Youth and Peacock clubs as an amateur.
‘The Cat’ won 26 out of 34 outings in the unpaid ranks and has yet to taste defeat since turning over, a run he’ll be looking to maintain at the Deco.
He said: “This was in the frame first, it’s only in the past few weeks that the eliminator came up. I didn’t think about pulling out, I never even considered it.
“I consider myself a Northampton boy, most of my friends are from there and they are the fans that turn out to support me.
“It’s important to get the rounds in and add a few things to my arsenal that, perhaps, have been missing in some of my previous performances.
“My feet and head movement are usually good and I can pick some pretty shots, I just want to do more of the basics well.
“I’m capable of some flashy things, with the side steps and rolls off the shoulder, and I like to please the crowd, but I want to show I can fight with my hands up.
“I might need that, going forward, with Vian coming up. I don’t know that much about him, I’m aware that he’s a paratrooper, so I’m expecting him to be fit and determined.
“I’ve got a pretty good mindset, too, and I want a shot at the English title by the end of the year. I’m ready to get started.
“I’ve done 10 rounds before, it took me two or three to work my opponent out and then I thought I dominated. I was still strong at the end.
“It’s been a hard road to get myself into this position and it looks that it’s starting to pay off. There’s a lot to be excited about.”
The under-card features a host of Northampton cohorts in the home corner, along with the Midlands Area Super Featherweight Title clash between Leo D’Erlanger (9-2-3) and Josh Baillie (5-5).
D’Erlanger, himself a veteran who is 35, has racked up 14 pro bouts with nine wins, two wins and three draws.
‘The Lion,’ who is originally from the capital but now resides in Banbury, Oxfordshire, has fearlessly boxed all over the country, including a previous appearance at the Deco.
His last appearance at the venue saw him outpoint Inderpreet Gill by four-round whitewash in 2017 and he’ll looking to have his hand raised under the lights again when he takes on Tamworth’s Baillie.
Older brother to Curtis Jnr Dominic Felix (1-1-1), who is nine years his senior at 39, resumes his efforts at light heavyweight with a win, loss and a draw on his record.
Northampton middleweight, Kieron Conway (11-1), also features after his semi final Ultimate Boxxer defeat.
Ricky Hatton trained Irishman, Chris Blaney (11-1-1), takes on Tom Stokes (10-2).
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.