At one point it seemed as if an opponent would never be found but thankfully everything is now set and I’ll be back in the ring on August 15 at the BT studios in London.
An official announcement will be made on who I’m fighting next month and I know it will be a tough, durable guy and Michael Conlan will also be on the card.
I will be having my first fight at the super-featherweight limit of 9st 4lb which will good for me because the long-term plan of a fight with Jamel Herring is on the table. The biggest danger would be to get complacent and start thinking about Herring fight instead of focusing on the job at hand so I have to make sure that doesn’t happen.
With the fight made at the super-feather limit I will, importantly, have the chance to see how I feel making the weight and how I am in the fight in the new division.
It has not been easy finding an opponent — there were half a dozen opponents who ultimately turned it down. Romanian Viorel Simion, who has fought Scott Quigg, Lee Selby and Shakur Stevenson, was offered the fight but decided against it and the French super-featherweight champion Florian Montels seemed to have agreed to a very good purse but then went radio silent.
It was a very frustrating few weeks because we thought at times a deal was done and then at the last moment it fell through. So, it was a real relief when the word came through that a deal had been agreed.
I’ve started some good sparring with my Manchester gym-mate Aqib Fiaz, who is ideal because he has been boxing above the super-featherweight limit.
My coach Jamie Moore has been very pleased with how things have been developing over the past few weeks at our gym in Manchester.
Apart from the possibility of complacency, the only other major issue, for everyone, is the concern about the virus because that can obviously put an end to my return to the ring and potentially delay a world title fight.
Obviously, there are protocols in place and that will include entering the bubble at the start of fight week. We’ll all be in the same hotel, using the same gym and be tested to make sure that we are all good to go.
That is going to be weird because as much as I like having people around me I do enjoy having my own time, going for a walk and chilling out as I get down to the weight leading up to a fight.
But this is the situation we’re in and that’s why it’s not easy for managers and promoters to make the fights they want.
For the next three weeks it’s full steam ahead in my preparation and I already feel I’m in a good place — my fitness is where I want it to be and already I’ve felt quite sharp in sparring.
Come August 15, I’ll be ready to take what should be the last step towards the chance to fight for a world title at a third different weight and make Irish boxing history.