Peter Cope hopes an appearance at the Stadium of Light turns him from nearly man to really man.
The Hartlepool boxer, who has mixed memories of Sunderland’s ground, will be the chief support act at the Summer Rumble.
Cope will face a tricky test against experienced Henry Janes over eight rounds at the annual outdoor event on Sunday, July 16.
Promoter and manager, Phil Jeffries, and coach, Neil Fannan, are keen to get the 26-year-old into the lightweight title picture.
Cope has won several minor belts, including the International Masters at the 2012 Summer Rumble but craves the big time.
Back in March, he lost an extremely close affair with unbeaten Northern Ireland fighter, Paul Hyland, at the first JD NXTGEN event in London.
Hyland has gone on to win the vacant IBF Europe lightweight title in his next contest and Cope feels so close to breaking into the elite.
And that’s what makes a clash with Janes so crucial.
“Since he’s come back from retirement, he’s won three and drawn two, all against unbeaten lads,” said Cope.
“He did lose last week, but that was to Joe Murray and there’s no disgrace in that.
“I’m hoping this can be a fight to catapult me up the ladder.
“If I’d got the result against Hyland I’d have gone straight into the top 10.
“We took the fight for that opportunity and I thought I beat him and so did a lot of people.
“Whichever way you look at it, it was a close fight against a contender.
“I think I proved I can fight at that level and that’s why I need a good fight and win here and see what might come from it.
“I’d take a title fight or eliminator now, but it’s about getting an opportunity.
“Neil wants to put a show on in Hartlepool before the end of the year so if I beat Janes perhaps the chance will come then.
“I’d love to have a big fight at the Borough Hall, it’s the best venue in the country.”
The NSL-sponsored southpaw had been expecting to be in Denmark this week, along with Fannan stablemate Martin Ward, after being invited to work at the same gym as European featherweight champion, Dennis Ceylan.
But the visit was cancelled at the last minute after Ceylan failed a drugs test.
“It would have been nice, but I was sparring with Lewis Ritson yesterday and it doesn’t get much better than that,” he said. “I’m training hard here and not far away weight-wise so it’s going well.”