Win can propel Luke Winton to big time
Luke Wilton's path could have been football or cricket but boxing is in his blood and that's why tomorrow night he will give every resource of energy in a bid to land the British and Commonwealth flyweight titles at the Liverpool Echo Arena.
East Belfast man Wilton challenges British and Commonwealth champion Kevin Satchell in the main supporting fight to heavyweight David Price's clash with American Tony Thompson, knowing that this could be a life changing moment.
The opportunity has come nine years on from when a tongue-in-cheek challenge from dad Alan led him to don a pair of gloves as a 15-year-old.
Alan, who trained him as an amateur and has managed his professional career, will be in his corner tomorrow night along with head coach Bernardo Checa.
"I wasn't really into boxing even though dad ran the local club and the whole family is involved in boxing," said Luke.
"I was a good footballer, I had trials with the Glens but I knew I wouldn't make it as a footballer. And I was also a pretty good cricketer as well.
"They were picking the top 25 kids to represent Ireland on a trip to face Australia and I was one of the top 25, I played for Saintfield cricket club and I was a good bowler. But because of boxing after being picked I didn't go back.
"From the time my dad said to me out of the blue, 'Do you want to fight on Friday night?' I was hooked.
"I only had two days training for the fight, it was an exhibition but I loved it and that was it, I never looked back."
Now he is not only preparing for a shot at title glory but also marriage to fiance Carla.
"They say things come in threes, well I have this fight with Satchell, my wedding on March 17 and then we have a baby on the way in July – that would be a perfect hat-trick!" added Wilton, whose career has been a slow burner, having suffered two defeats and a draw in its embryonic stages.
Then, despite a series of victories, he was frozen out of the British title picture for some time.
Wilton, 24, said: "When my dad said I had been offered this fight, I said 'yes', I didn't even think about the money, I just wanted the chance.
"The whole of east Belfast is buzzing, when I'm out running people are tooting the horn and wishing me well, I feel a bit like Rocky.
"There were moments when I thought it wouldn't happen, I thought I'd never get the British title shot but my dad kept saying 'hang in there' and that's what I did and finally I have got a chance.
"Mind you, I never thought it could be this hard. I thought it was easy, just win and you get the shot but it doesn't happen that way.
"So you just keep winning and wait and now I have the chance. Now I have the chance I am much more relaxed, it's like a big weight has been lifted.
"I have nothing to lose going into his backyard and I know it will have to be the performance of my life.
"If I win this then I can get a European title shot."
Satchell starts as favourite with his promoter Frank Maloney already predicting that he will go on to enjoy world honours.
Wilton embraces his position as underdog and is adamant that he will pull off an upset.
"I keep coming forward, I don't know when I'm beat.I'll be there, 10, 11, 12 rounds right to the end giving it all I've got.
"No matter how tired I am I'll be getting off that stool and I'll break his heart in the last rounds and I might even stop him.
"I think he is underestimating me, saying that he is a big flyweight. He doesn't realise how strong I am. For this fight I have brought in a strength and conditioner and that has helped a lot.
"He is strong but I'm a lot stronger than I was a good while ago and when I hit him with those 8oz gloves we'll see how he likes it," he said.
"If I can get my hands on the titles, words couldn't describe what it will mean to me."
Wilton finished off his training at the gym of his boxing hero Ricky Hatton in Manchester yesterday and with words of encouragement ringing in his ears from the Hitman, the Belfast man hopes to deliver a memorable display.