Edinburgh boxer John Thain has never even stepped foot inside London’s prestigious York Hall venue.
Nevertheless, he is desperate to make it a maiden trip to remember when he enters the ring against Larry Ekundayo tomorrow night.
The 30-year-old has only recently made a return to the sport following an 19-month lay-off due to injury and illness – he defeated Chris Jenkinson in Paisley last month – but faces the biggest test of his career against former Prizefighter champion Ekundayo for the vacant IBF European welterweight title.
MTK fighter Thain, or “the gentleman” as he is known throughout the boxing fraternity, is renowned for being one of the nice guys of the sport. However, he is ready to mix it up as he strives to bring home the first title of his eight-year professional career.
“This one is definitely a step up in terms of importance and prestige. It’s made the occasion so much better that a European title is on the line and I believe I’ll rise to it,” Thain told the Evening News.
“It was great to get back into the ring last month after being out for so long so I just want to continue that momentum. It’s great I’m getting that opportunity on such a big stage. It’s always better for a boxer when you can have that bit of continuity behind you and that’s something I haven’t had recently.
“I’ve never been to York Hall so it will be my first time there. I’ve boxed in London a couple of times before but never there. I’m very familiar with it in terms of watching it on television but I’ve never actually been. It will be great to go down and see it in the flesh for real as so many greats have fought there. It’s all part of the occasion so I’m really looking forward to it.”
Thain’s biggest contest to date was a British title defeat to current champion Bradley Skeete in November 2016. Having had time to reflect on the third loss in 20 duels, Thain insists he will use the experience to his advantage.
“You always gain something when you go the distance and I think that experience of fighting Skeete will stand me in good stead for tomorrow,” he said. “I could have said goodbye to the sport there and then but I looked at the situation and said to myself, ‘how can I improve from that and what do I need to do to get better?’ This will be just as big as the British title, if not bigger. It’s about time I brought a belt back to Lochend because I’ve been a pro since 2010 so I really think this is going to be a great night.
“He’ll have the support but you just have to control what you can. I always give my all but I’m just feeling really good and I am happy. It’s a great feeling to have going into such a big fight.
“I was speaking to my friend John White, who used to be part of my coaching team early on in my career, and he was saying how as a boxer we are all on our own unique journey and he’s right. I just want to see how far my hard work and dedication takes me.
“My team believe in me so I need to get in there and do a job. I’ve still got a lot of ambition to go far in the sport despite being 30. A win in London could really set me up for the next few years so I’ve got to grasp the opportunity while I can.”