The six-rounder against Troy James [on the Bellew-Haye undercard] is to prepare for a more significant fight in the summer?
It’s part of a bigger picture. It’s about me getting out there and fighting. It’s been a while.
Are you expecting it to be Yvan Mendy next, in a WBC final eliminator?
I’m hoping it’s Mendy. That’s the fight I want. I want Mendy.
I shouldn’t have got in the ring that night [when they fought in 2015], for a fact, but regardless I did and I let people see a very weak version of myself. But I’m just thinking now all round, in everything, I’m better, I’m more confident. I’m bigger, I’m stronger. I’m technically better. I’m better in every way, shape and form. But I’m never one to talk. I always like my actions to speak louder than my words. So when we have a chat after the fight and I beat him, then we’ll see the difference.
And it’s a chance to remind people how good you are?
I believe I’m one of the best in the lightweight division in the world… But at the moment there’s only one fight that’s saying that, there’s only fight I’ve had that’s actually putting me in there. You’re going to see a lot more of me and you’re going to see a lot better of me. I’m excited. I’m really confident in myself and believe I’ve got a great career ahead. I’ve never had it easy in boxing, from the start I’ve never had it easy in boxing. I’ve never had the easy route. And I’ve never asked for the easy route. I was always say to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best. So far it’s what I’ve been on a mission to do. I was very unlucky against [Jorge] Linares. I could easily be sat here now WBA world lightweight champion. But they gave it to him on a split decision, I though I nicked it by a couple of rounds. But at the end of the day I’m in the champion’s back garden, on his turf, I needed to do a little bit more.
I still believe I should have won seven rounds out of the 12… I’m moving forward and I will prove myself to be a world champion.
Do you think Mikey Garcia will vacate the WBC lightweight title?
All I know is he hasn’t fought for the title in 15 months, which is crazy. The last two fights he’s boxed at 140lbs. But apparently he’s coming back down and he’s fighting at 135lbs now. Which you don’t really get fighters that go up and come back down. But he’s one of the best out there pound-for-pound.
So it could go Mendy, then Garcia for the title?
Yeah, if he’s there… He seems to be messing around the weights. He’s even talked about fighting at welterweight, so it’s a bit confusing really, what his plans are.
Do you think that means there’s a chance you could fight Mendy for the vacant belt?
I’m hoping so. For me that would be the number one thing to happen. For me that’s what I’d love. Mendy certainly is a world title fight, we’re both one and two in the WBC [rankings]. There’s history there and I certainly think me and him is a big fight. Our styles clash very well, it’s going to make a great fight, an exciting fight.
Finally, how do you see Vasyl Lomachenko versus Linares going?
A lot of people forget that Lomachenko was a lightweight as an amateur, so he’s naturally a lightweight anyhow as an amateur. I was a bantamweight as an amateur. So the weight issue I believe is no problem whatsoever. I believe he outboxes Linares over the 12 rounds. (I thought I outboxed Linares over the 12 rounds). So I believe Lomachenko, his movement and boxing ability, I think I’ll outbox Linares over 12. The thing is Linares is a big force. I’m not disrespecting Linares one bit. He’s a big force, his power speed skill. You never know what’s going to happen. I believe Linares is Lomachenko’s biggest test for sure.