Jay Harris hopes he can ditch the Amazon Warehouse for good and deliver a world title belt to his unborn child.
Welsh flyweight Harris has enjoyed a remarkable turnaround just 18 months after coming close to quitting the sport.
Opportunities dried up after he won the Commonwealth title and he had to be persuaded by family and friends not to give up on his dream.
Overnight shifts at an Amazon Warehouse in South Wales have helped Harris pay the bills whilst keeping his boxing dreams alive.
But Saturday night will see the determined 27-year-old ditch the small halls for the bright lights of the USA looking to live his American dream against Julio Cesar Martinez.
The WBC world title is on the line in the biggest fight of his career so far – and he is determined to take the belt back to those closest to him to repay the faith they showed during his darkest days.
“The start of the year has been mental,” Harris told Mirror Sport shortly after arriving in Frisco, Texas for fight week.
“I’ve got a world title fight, and had the announcement of my baby girl coming in June, so it’s a very exciting year ahead and I’d just love to have a world title belt to show my girls.
“It’s starting to sink in now that it’s fight week. We’ve been working hard in training but now we’re over here it feels real I guess.
“To be fighting in America is a dream come true really. Everyone wants to fight in America at some stage. It’s a pity it’s not Las Vegas, but we’ve got plenty of time for that, so one day!
“It’s one off the list, being out in Texas and experiencing something new so I’m just really pleased to have this opportunity.
“I’ve been over the moon with the last 18 months. I won the Commonwealth title then just wasn’t really getting the opportunities I needed. I was a bit down in the dumps then MTK signed me up, and things have just turned around from there. In the space of a year it’s all changed.
“I got the fight against (Angel) Moreno for the European title which was a good win, then Paddy Barnes was a good opportunity and a big performance for me.
“I was very close to packing it in not too long ago, so the turnaround has been great. I wasn’t really earning enough money 18 months ago. I was in a position where I could earn more on a full-time job instead.
“I considered hanging up the gloves, but my family and friends around me encouraged and supported me. They managed to talking me round to stick with it, so I’m thankful to them and I’d just love to bring a world title back home for them.”
Harris knows he is fighting for more than just a world title on Saturday night.
There’s also the tantalising prospect of leaving behind the overnight shifts to dedicate himself for a full-time boxing career if he can reach the pinnacle of the sport.
He has reached a perfect 17-0 record so far in his professional career whilst juggling training with his gruelling work hours.
And whilst he has had two months off to prepare for the fight of his life and dedicate himself to a full training camp, he is eyeing a win which could see him ditch the balancing act for good.
“I work part-time at Amazon in the warehouse,” he explained.
“I do the night shifts on a Thursday and Friday night, about 7:15pm to 5:30am most nights, unloading the lorries, putting good into lanes, signing the drivers off and that sort of thing.
“I enjoy what I do there and I can’t have too many complaints with it, but it’s hard to juggle the two and fit in the boxing. Obviously Thursday and Friday are the hardest when I’m training in the day then work all night, try and get some sleep then get back in the gym again.
“I have my rest day on a Sunday to catch up and recover then go again, and the early days in the week when I’m not at work are much, much easier.
“We’ve worked it out and it’s worked pretty well so far, getting to this point and still being unbeaten.
“But I knew for this fight I needed to prepare as well as possible, and luckily work have been really supportive. They’ve given me two months off for this fight and that’s enabled me to have a proper camp, Monday to Saturday, and really go for it.
“If all goes to plan this weekend it would be lovely to come back and become a full-time boxer to continue this career, but I need to win this fight first and see what happens.”
Harris’ hopes of going full-time are boosted by growing interest in the flyweight division.
His opponent, Martinez, stunned Charlie Edwards in August before the fight was ruled a no contest and the Brit vacated the title Harris is now aiming to capture.
On the same card on Saturday night, Britain’s longest-serving active world champion, Kal Yafai, defends his WBA super fly world title against the experienced Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez.
Whilst it may be a far cry from the tens of millions being racked in by Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury in boxing’s most lucrative division, Harris believes the tide is rightly turning to provide boxing’s pint-sized stars with worthy reward for their efforts.
He stated: “I think the flyweight division is finally getting the recognition it deserves, so hopefully I’ve timed it right and there will be some good opportunities for me here.
“It doesn’t get as much attention but to be fair, I think it can be very exciting – we’re small, fast and the pace can be relentless.
“We do the same job as every other weight and work just as hard but we don’t get the money we deserve compared to the heavier weights.
“Hopefully with some good names, especially in the UK, we can build up the profile and change that with some big fights that people want to see.”
Harris enters the ring in Texas as the underdog against Martinez, who knocked out Welsh compatriot Andrew Selby last March then stopped Cristofer Rosales in impressive fashion to win the vacant strap in December.
But the challenger is no stranger to entering unknown territory without any expectations.
His world title shot comes after demolishing Olympic gold medalist Paddy Barnes in his home town of Belfast last October – a performance still giving him confidence to feed off heading across the Atlantic.
“It’s going to be a big test and I’m expecting a tough, hard fight but I’m definitely confident,” Harris declared. “I wouldn’t be taking the fight if I wasn’t.
“The Paddy Barnes fight has given me massive confidence, being able to go over there and knock him out when nobody was expecting me to win.
“We were going over to his back yard, people were telling me he was their ‘golden child’ sort of thing, he was their main man.
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