THE Gloves are ON!
After months of waiting and talking, much of the latter from Mitchell Smith, Peter Cope’s crack at the English super-featherweight title is just hours away.
Cope takes on confident Cockney Smith in what promises to be a mouthwatering battle for the national belt between the two undefeated and ambitious prospects at York Hall tonight.
The Hartlepool boxer starts as the outsider, despite having won all nine of his pro contests – Smith has eight victories from eight (four by stoppage) and has home advantage.
The boxers met each other for the first time yesterday at the weigh-in in Hertford but they will come together for real tonight at the famous Bethnal Green venue.
Smith has been highly-voluable in the build-up, describing himself as a “level above” Cope who he vows to dish out “a boxing lesson” to before knocking him out.
The Gus Robinson Developments camp have kept away from the fighting talk but head coach – and Peter’s dad – Peter Cope Snr says the Londoners could be in for a surprise.
“I understand that for all the big talking that Mitchell Smith does, he is actually a nice kid,” Cope Snr told SportMail.
“He says that he respects Peter but he’s at another level to him.
“His camp are already talking of him being a future world champion so are they already looking past Peter.
“I hope they are because if they under-estimate him they will get a shock.
“The Smith camp are very confident in their kid, but I’m not sure anyone has hit him back yet.
“We don’t know how good he is, may be we’ll find out tonight.
“We are quietly confident – I’m not a coach who says we’re going to do this and that.
“I’ve seen Peter train and I’ve seen him grow as a fighter and I think we have a chance.
“All I will say is that this is a massive opportunity for him.
“If he beats Smith then he’s right in the mix at super-featherweight.”
The 49-year-old admits the same “we don’t know how good he is yet” line also applies to his son and is looking forward to seeing how he rises to the challenge in the capital’s Eastend.
“That’s true,” he said. “He’s won every fight well, including his International Masters victory over Gavin Reid.
“He stepped up in class in his last fight when he boxed Sean Hughes and he impressed me.
“We don’t know how good Peter is yet.
“Apart from the  National Clubs for Young People’s final against Sean McGoldrick, Peter has never been sorted out.
“Whenever he has lost – and it hasn’t been often – it has been by a point or two and against the best quality opposition.
“We are quietly confident for tonight.
“Peter has a lot of talent and loads of heart and bottle. One thing I know for sure is he’ll give it everything.”