Luke Wilton is back on title bid journey
Luke Wilton will look back on 2013 with bitter-sweet memories and ahead to 2014 believing he can finally achieve his dream of British title success.
The east Belfast flyweight came up short against British champion Kevin Satchell in February but only after a gutsy performance that has now led the British Boxing Board of Control to give him a final eliminator battle with Scotland's Iain Butcher for the right to box for the Lonsdale belt once more.
The purse bids for the final eliminator will be opened on November 18 with the fight expected to take place in February. The winner will then be guaranteed the next shot at champion Satchell – assuming he has not vacated the belt and moved on to European or world level.
While he waits to see where and when he will face Butcher, Wilton seeks to deliver another victory this Saturday night at the Holiday Inn when he faces 21-year-old Bulgarian Valentin Marinov.
Dad Alan is staging the bill which also features Luke's unbeaten brother Matt as well as Belfast man Mark Morris making his debut.
Alan said: "2014 is going to be the year for Luke. He's going to win this British title eliminator and then he will win the British title.
"It's great that the British Boxing Board of Control have made the fight with Butcher a final eliminator because it forces the champion to face Luke.
"I will be bidding to bring the fight with Butcher to Belfast but I know that Tommy Gilmour will also be in for it so it won't be easy but to be honest I don't care where the fight takes place because we know that Luke will win it.
"Then I would like to think that by the end of May he will be fighting for the British title.
"We know that Satchell doesn't want to fight Luke again, he has made that clear, but the Board can force him once Luke becomes the number one challenger. But, of course, Satchell could move on to other things – either way Luke is going to fight for and win the British title."
Local fans would be intrigued by a fight with fellow Belfast flyweight Jamie Conlan but that doesn't seem to be on the Wilton radar.
"I don't see that fight happening in the forseeable future. There's been a lot of bad blood," added Alan.
"Maybe if one of them has a major title then the fight could be made. Everyone knows it would be a very big fight and maybe it will happen down the line."
Alan is also hopeful that 2014 will see light-welterweight son Matthew move up a level, though he is adamant there is no rush to give him a major test.
He added: "Matthew is looking very strong at light-welterweight but he has a long way to go and he may even be able to do lightweight. I'm not interested in moving him too quickly, I want Matthew to learn his trade and gradually work his way up to bigger fights.
"An Irish title in 2014 would be the target, maybe even a Celtic title fight, we'll see. On Saturday night he has another good learning fight and hopefully he will give another good performance."
Wilton should extend his unbeaten record to eight with victory over Scotland's Matthew Seawright.
Tickets for the show, which also features Paul Quinn and Fredo Meli, are still available.