Jon-Lewis Dickinson hopes to claim the British cruiserweight belt outright on Saturday night, then be inspired to greater things.
The 27-year-old fights Neil Dawson in his third defence of his Lonsdale belt, knowing victory will earn him it for keeps.
Then, afterwards, he will watch former Birtley club-mate Martin Ward battle Darlington’s Stuey Hall for the IBF world bantamweight title dreaming about being next.
“I’ve trained with Martin Ward since I was 14 down at Birtley ABC,” said the former Prizefighter champion. “We went through the junior and senior (amateur) championships together. When we turned pro we went different ways but we’ve remained close friends.
“To be fighting on the same bill together and not even just us but the likes of Bradley Saunders, who was always a team-mate of ours and Frankie Gavin, who I know pretty well and I trained with for England, it feels like our era’s come together.”
Not so long ago Ward looked some way from the world title picture but December’s Commonwealth title win and the fact the current champion is also from the North East have combined to give him his chance. If Ward can fight for world titles – and perhaps even win one – surely Dickinson can too.
“My first goal was to win that belt outright so even now I’ve not thought beyond that,” he insisted. “All I wanted was to get that belt for the rest of my life. If I start looking at other routes there’s the possibility of not getting that belt. Once this fight’s out of the way I’ll be looking to Europe and the world.
“Sometimes you think the world title’s a long way away but then you look at the two lads. Stuey Hall’s won the world title and now Martin Ward’s fighting for it, so it’s not really that much of a big step. That’s what I’ll be concentrating on doing after I win this belt outright.”
Doing that has long been Dickinson’s ambition but he has been stuck on two defences for nearly a year.
“The fight’s been made since the middle of last year, we’ve just been waiting for a date and a venue,” said Dickinson, who beat Mike Stafford in April 2013. “But the fight’s never changed, it’s always been the same opponent – Neil Dawson.
“I don’t look back much at my opponent, I’m not that kind of person. People can change their tactics and everyone fights differently against different opponents. I just work on getting myself in the best possible condition. It’s had to be that way really because I’d have been thinking about it for such a long time. I probably wouldn’t have slept for months!
“It’s not until the last couple of weeks before a fight I start thinking about tactics and things like that.”
With the show on course for a 5,000 sell-out, Dickinson is looking forward to achieving another of his long-held ambitions – to fight professionally in Newcastle.
“It’s brilliant fighting in the North East but one thing I never have done is fight in Newcastle,” he pointed out.
“My last few fights were in the Sunderland area but I’ve always wanted to fight in Newcastle and the Arena’s obviously the best place to fight in.
“I watched (Joe) Calzaghe and (Ricky) Hatton fight there (in 2002). I went to watch “A-force” – Audley Harrison (in 2001) – and funnily enough he fought an opponent, (Mark) Krence a year later, who I fought in the Prizefighter. Harrison got booed out of the Arena because they thought it was a robbery.”
A win for Dickinson would guarantee a hat-trick of North East titles with Sunderland’s Kirk Goodings defending his English lightweight title against Fishburn’s Neil Hepper.