BLACKPOOL boxer Jeff Thomas has willingly stepped into the breach after Matthew Hall pulled out of a fight in London billed as an eliminator for the British light-middleweight title held by Brian Rose.
Thomas, 30, will now box former British champion Sam Webb at Wembley Arena on March 16.
It will be Webb’s first fight since ceding the British title to Prince Arron last May – Arron went on to lose it to Blackpool fighter Rose at Wigan in December.
Thomas got the call from matchmaker Dean Powell when former Commonwealth champion Hall withdrew and the Blackpool boxer needed no second invitation to grasp the opportunity with both hands.
He is confident he is not just going in as easy fodder for Webb, who was badly beaten up by Arron as he lost his Lonsdale Belt in a punishing fight.
Thomas says that a win would open up all manner of doors for him.
He has even been sparring this week at a gym in Gisburn with legendary Mexican Marco Antonio Barrera, who beat Prince Naseem Hamed and has shared a ring with the likes of Manny Pacquiao and Amir Khan.
It would be the biggest notch on Thomas’ belt if he was to pull it off against Webb and he is convinced he can win.
Thomas said: “I was already in training for a fight on April 14, so it is not as if it is short notice.
“I have had three fights since I made my comeback, and I have not lost.
“My sparring has been top-class, and no-one has been able to hold me in the gym.
“They brought in the European junior champion into the gym - and I knocked him out.
“I am really going to go for it and not sit on a paper pedestal and try and build up my record by fighting journeymen - I am serious about my comeback and I want fights like this.
“Webb won’t be able to break me - if he wants to beat me, then he will have to knock me out.”
So bad was Webb’s pasting at the hands of Arron that he needed hospital treatment afterwards for a perforated ear-drum, and meeting Thomas will be his first fight back - some wondered whether he would venture into the ring again after that defeat and the psychological scars of such a pounding.
Thomas said: “As far as I am concerned, it is an eliminator, and I deserve a shot at a title if I beat Webb because I will have beaten a former British champion.”
But he does not see himself campaigning at light-middle in future - or challenging Rose for the title.
Rose defends his Lonsdale Belt against Max Maxwell at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens on March 31.
Thomas said: “Brian has been a friend for a long time, and I don’t think I would ever box him.
“In future, I will be boxing at one of the lower weights, light-welter or welter.”
The clash is on the undercard of George Groves’ British super middleweight defence against Kenny Anderson.
The whole show will be screened live on BoxNation, the dedicated tv fight channel.