Highly-rated young boxer Stan Stannard is targeting titles and TV bouts after taking the plunge and turning professional last week.
With three offers on the table, Stannard last Wednesday signed a three-year deal with Newark-based promoter Carl Greaves, the ex-world champion who also managed former Melton heavyweight Paul Butlin.
The 22-year-old, who has represented England several times as an amateur, believes he is now mature enough to handle the expectations and commitments of a professional boxer.
“I could have signed as a pro a few years ago, but I didn’t feel ready, mentally more than anything,” he said.
“Now I have confidence knowing I have boxed the best of the best in amateurs.
“I’d been looking to go pro since April, but there was one last tournament I wanted to do as an amateur.
“I wanted do well and then see what my options were and how I felt about things.”
Stannard has created a good deal of interest on the boxing scene and was mulling over three contract offers before choosing Newark-based Greaves.
“I’ve been looking around at quite a few promoters and Carl was offering a good deal,” Stannard explained.
“I’ve known him for a quite a few years. No-one has a bad word to say about him.
“He is a trustworthy guy and I believe he will get me to where I want to be.”
Greaves in turn has high hopes for his new protegee.
“I’m really happy about signing Stan,” he said.
“I’ve had my eyes on him for a while - a very good prospect who I think at minimum can become a British champion.”
The Harby light-middleweight leaves the amateur circuit ranked sixth nationally in his division, with 39 wins from 49 bouts, having reached the final of his last tournament, the highly-regarded Haringey Box Cup.
There he secured a brilliant quarter-final win over tournament favourite Tristan Brookes, the Canadian champion, before going on to lose in the final on a split decision, a contest he believed he had won.
“I feel I have achieved quite a lot in amateurs and getting in the top 10 this year put me on the map,” Stannard said.
“I’ve had a lot of fights now and I’m ready for a new challenge.
“I feel I’ve matured over the last year or two and ready to go as far as I can in the pro’s.”
He added: “I hope to get to 10 and 0 undefeated and Carl said he would then move me on an take me up to bigger boys like Frank Warren to go up to title fights and TV deals.
“Things can crop up before then, but as far as title fights are concerned, I would be looking at 18 months to two years.”
Stannard will continue to work as night manager at the Carpenter’s Arms rehabilitation centre, at Six Hills, for the next few months until his first fight is confirmed, which he expects to go ahead in November.
“I already feel I have switched a little bit because now it’s my livelihood and my career rather than a hobby. It’s my life and my business.”
The former Priory Belvoir Academy pupil found boxing by chance, hooked after visiting a gym as a 13-year-old with his older brother.
It also marked the end of a highly-promising football career, having been a highly-rated prospect within Leicester City’s academy.
“I think I could have made it in football, but I didn’t really enjoy it any more and I found my calling in boxing,” he explained.
“I like the discipline of it and what you can turn your body into, pushing yourself to the limit.”
One of his earliest memories of the sport was as an eight-year-old, watching the up-and-coming Amir Khan win Olympic silver in 2004.
And like all boxers, his ultimate ambition is to go all the way to a world belt.
While he will now spend the bulk of his training with Greaves, Stannard will continue his association with Clifton Amateur Boxing Club and do some work with his appropriately-named coach Gary Winning.
He has trained in Nottingham throughout his career and made his competitive debut there at 15.
“Gary is over the moon because I’m the first lad he’s had that has gone on to turn pro,” Stannard added.
As in all the best sports stories, there have been frustrations and setbacks to overcome.
Along with a few controversial defeats, Stannard had to undergo hand surgery on a snapped ligament two years ago, a serious injury which kept him out of the ring for nine months.
“I had an England assessment and a few weeks later I did my hand in training and then did two fights with it,” he said.
“I have seen a couple of people who have had the same operation and they never recovered properly.
“After I had my operation I couldn’t make a fist for ages which was worrying, but now it’s all fine.”