JON FERNANDES believes he has what it takes to bag his first title as he headlines the big Southampton Guildhall show on Friday night.
The 28-year-old will be fighting in front of a large home crowd, and fighting over 10 rounds for the first time.
Fernandes said he is respectful of Jamie Speight's record but is certain he has the ability to bag the milestone title as long as he is at his best.
"I'm buzzing and I can't wait for Friday night," said Fernandes, who has a record of nine wins from nine contests as a pro under the tutelage of Southampton-based trainer Wayne Batten.
"He's definitely experienced. I honestly think he's better than people might think if they watched his last fight. He was giving away a lot of natural weight and experience against Ben Jones who is an English champion.
"He's had seven weeks to train for this and he's 24 so he's not looking to just come down and get paid – he wants to win.
"I think if I box at my best I'll beat him no problem but if I don't turn up I think he has the capability of beating me. Like all sport you've got to perform on the day.
"I've got the beating of him without a doubt but he's a game kid and he will have a go back.
"He likes to move and not stand toe-to-toe which makes it interesting too.
"People have said about him having championship experience and having done the ten rounds whereas I haven't but look who he did it against – they weren't as good as me and I've not lost as a pro.
"I hope when it gets tough I'll have the minerals and I'm hoping he won't.
"I've been working towards this and I've improved a lot since I've joined Wayne and that has given me this opportunity."
Fernandes has been preparing for the fight by travelling regularly to Wales for some top class sparring alongside training partners of world champion Nathan Cleverly, thanks to the links his trainer has with the Welsh camp.
It is a long haul for a fighter who also holds down a full time job, but Batten is hopeful the commitment will pay dividends.
"Jon has had some really good sparring in Wales and looks in great shape," he said.
"It's great this fight has happened because Jon was due to fight for the English title on October 5 but sadly that fell through.
"He was disappointed at the time to lose that opportunity but now, in my view, he has actually gained from that because he was due to fight in London but is now in front of his home fans.
"Hopefully the Southampton boxing public will turn out to cheer on one of their own and Jon will get the win.
"If anybody deserves a title fight then it's Jon. His dedication and commitment are second to none and hopefully that will translate into a title next week."