Trawden boxer Shayne’s title tilt

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ENGLISH title challenger Shayne Singleton believes his forthcoming contest with former professional footballer Curtis Woodhouse will define his career.

The tenacious 23-year-old International Masters light-welterweight champion, who goes into the bout with a perfect record from 13 professional outings, is adamant that this is the fight that will shape his future in the sport.

The pair will lock horns for the belt, secured by Woodhouse’s victory over Dave Ryan in September, at Rotherham’s Magna Centre on Friday, February 22nd.

“I’ve wanted it for a long time now and I feel I’m ready to make the step up,” former Sandygate ABC fighter Singleton insisted. “My coach Karl Ince told me he hadn’t taken it at first because he wanted me to get a few more fights, a bit more experience, under my belt.

“But with seven weeks notice there was plenty of time for me to prepare for the fight. I talked him round and we decided to take it. I was like a kid at Christmas.”

He added: “You need to take these chances to gauge what level you’re at. If I do lose, then I know I’m not quite at that level yet, but it’s up to me to prove that I belong there. If I win this then I’ll remain at this standard and my career will be rewarded with big 10 and 12-round contests. This is like an eliminator for the British title as well. I’m just going to give it everything because it’ll be a good measurement as to where I’m at.”

Singleton admits his credentials have been questioned by pundits and fanzines alike, suggesting that he faces the same fate as Ronnie Heffron who lost to Denton Vassell, Kieran Farrell who was defeated by Anthony Crolla, and Karl Place who was beaten by Steve Williams. But Singleton wasn’t prepared to reject the BBBofC’s invitation.

“The BBBofC offered me the fight versus Steve Williams before Christmas which was a step up in class and now they’ve offered me another,” he said. “I didn’t feel I could afford to refuse the invitation again because they might bypass me next time and I’d miss out on the opportunity later on.

“People have been saying that it’s a step up too soon for me. They’ve been comparing me to other fighters who were beat after jumping up too early. But it’s an opportunity I had to take. There’s no expectation so there’s no pressure on me. He knows it’s going to be a tough fight.”

Singleton may be the underdog for the first time in his career, pitted against a foe with a burgeoning reputation inside the ring and 17 victories from 21 contests, 11 by knockout. But the swift-moving, methodical-thinking and crowd-pleasing boxer isn’t there to make up the numbers; he’s there to cause an upset.

“We believe we can do it, we wouldn’t take it otherwise,” declared Singleton. “It’s an absolute pleasure to even step into the ring with somebody of Curtis’s calibre, never mind fight him for an English title as well.

“He’s a big fighter with a big reputation and he’s dangerous. I’m taking a serious risk because he’s a big hitter and there is that chance that I could get beat, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take. I’m confident I can come through it.

“I think I can out-skill him, out-class him and out-school him. He’s a brawler and most of his fights have been nominated for fight of the year. His bouts are fierce, toe-to-toe wars. Everyone will be expecting something similar this time but that won’t happen. I won’t fight him at his game, I’ll make him fight me at my game.”

Singleton added: “I can cause an upset if I’m at the top of my game. He’s going to come at me and he may just walk on to one of my shots. I’m not saying I’m going to knock him out because that’s only happened once in his career.

“I don’t think I’ll lose, hopefully I’ll be too clever for him. I just have to be disciplined and stick to my boxing and let my technique shine through. I won’t be pulled in to a war, I just need to keep moving.”

Singleton’s support, whether at home or away, has been spectacularly vociferous. But this is when he needs his fans the most. Anybody wishing to purchase a ticket can do so by contacting Shayne on 07857 476485. “The support has been great all my career but I need them more than ever,” he said. “He will have great support, so I want to match that. I want to go there and take that belt home.”