JACK Flatley’s burning ambition is to emulate hero Sugar Ray Leonard and become champion of the world.

The Farnworth boxer will take the next step towards his ultimate goal tomorrow night when he makes his professional debut at the Manchester Arena.

His first pro bout against experienced middleweight Lewis van Poetsch, which is scheduled for four rounds, is an important moment in the youngster’s development following a promising amateur career.

After 77 amateur fights, which culminated in a place in the senior ABA final and the chance to box for England, Flatley now feels it is time to take the next step.

“I wouldn’t have turned pro if I didn’t believe I could one day be world champion,” said the 20-year-old, who is trained by Alex Matvienko at Elite Gym in Halliwell.

“I don’t think you can get into this sport with a different mindset.

“I have wanted to be a world champion ever since I was 10 years old. You have got to think like that.

“As a youngster I always wanted to be like Sugar Ray Leonard.

“I loved his style and the way he always tried to entertain.

“I have wanted to be like him since I was 10.”

The ex-Harper Green High School pupil’s opponent, Van Poetsch, is a former Royal Marine from Gloucestershire.

He has already beaten another boxer from the Elite stable, so Flatley is expecting a tough contest.

“Obviously a lot of people will be going over to Manchester to watch me so I want to put in a good performance,” he said.

“But I am not going to try to knock him out.

“I am going to stick to what we have practised in the gym and make sure I don’t tire myself out.

“If I get a knockout then that would be good, don’t get me wrong, but I am just going to stick to my game plan and see what happens.”

Flatley will make his debut on a high-class BoxNation bill that features two world-title fights and a first defence for Elite stablemate Luke Blackledge of his Commonwealth super-middleweight belt.

The 25-year-old Accrington-born fighter recently moved to live in Bolton as he stepped up his preparations to face Lee Markham tomorrow.

And Jack hopes to be in the crowd cheering him on after doing the business against van Poetsch.

“I will be on much earlier, so hopefully I will be able to watch Luke,” added Flatley.

“He has been a big inspiration for me. We have done a lot of sparring together and it is great to know that you can hold your own with a Commonwealth champion.

“Being in the ring with him helped me realise what I am capable of and gave me the confidence to turn pro.”

Fans can watch both fighters in the free public weigh-in at the Manchester Arena from 2pm today.

Tickets are still available for the fight, priced £40 to £500, from Elite Boxing in Halliwell. Call 01204 493563 for details.

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