Jake James insists he is on the Welterweight title trail in 2022.
He will have to show Championship qualities when he boxes his first ever eight rounder against Ghanaian champion Joseph Lamptey at University of Bolton Stadium on Saturday March 12.
Their battle is joint top of the bill alongside recent European title challenger Jack Flatley.
Lamptey (26-7-1), 18 KOs) has been 12 rounds five times in his career and won his last eight bouts – six by KO.
Only the very best have defeated him like Sam Eggington and Larry Ekundayo who he went the 12 round distance with in his last loss back in September 2015.
James (9-0, 2 KOs) said: “I have had a couple of decent fights like Ben Fields and Kamil Mlodzinski and I have been asking Steve Wood for another step up and he has given me one. I have to deliver and I’m sure I will.
“Lamptey isn’t coming to roll over. He has won his last eight fights and knocked most of them out. He is getting on, but is experienced and should bring something I haven’t seen before.
“I want to stay busy. I’m happy to be the away fighter and I sell enough tickets to be the home fighter and hopefully get on Sky Sports.
“I want to keep stepping up and I don’t see why I can’t pick up a Central Area or even an English title this year.
“This is a step up and should move me up the rankings. I’m soon to be 27 and I want to be picking up some sort of title.
“If it’s not going to happen now it never will.”
A hand injury slowed Jake’s progress. He managed two fights in the second half of 2021 following an 18-month layoff and should have boxed a third contest in December, but tested positive for Covid.
His contest against Lamptey will be Jake’s fifth fight under former World champion Anthony Crolla and the pair make the perfect partnership.
Jake added: “Training with Ant Crolla has brought me on leaps and bounds and I’m yet to show that in the ring. I’m hoping to showcase them against Lamptey.
“It’s difficult against some guys. My last opponent, Angel Emilov was 159lb and ripped so all I could do was hit him and move.”
Flatley (17-2-1) pushed European Super-Welterweight champion Kerman Lejarraga in December when he travelled to Bilbao before losing in the ninth.
Like James, Flatley faces Ghanian opposition over eight rounds with Daniel Aduku (14-2-1, 10 KOs) in the opposite corner.
VIP chief Steve Wood: “This a solid test for Jake and it is time for him to crack on. Soon he will be involved in ten round title contests.
“Injury and the pandemic stalled his career, but he should make up for lost time in 2022 and end the year with a title.
“Jack is still in the picture for a big title and once he has a couple of wins the phone will be ringing again with good offers for big fights.”
Unbeaten Salford Super-Lightweight Luke Evans (11-0, 1 KO), Manchester Super-Lightweight Kane Gardner and local boxers Lightweight Greg McGuinness (3-0) and Featherweight Liam Gaynor (7-1) are all in six round action.
Stockport Super-Welterweight Rhys Wood (2-0), St Helens Super-Welterweight Johnny Kiely (1-0), and debutant Marcus Tomlinson box four rounders.