I was supposed to fight in Dubai on April 3 but then Top Rank wanted me on my own date for ESPN. I know Sunny Edwards is the main event here in the UK but in America I’m the main event. I’ve been in camp now 15 weeks. It’s been long, very long. But it’s good I’ve been able to work on different things. I was ready to go for April 3 but I’m even more ready now. So I’m excited to see what happens Friday night.
I have two young kids. It is hard being away. I know that this is a small window, a very small window for any sportsman and you need to make the most of it. These sacrifices are just all part of the job and the make up of a fighter, which you have to do. If it’s too comfortable, you’re never really going to go as far as you possibly could. You need to take yourself out of those comfort zones and push yourself more and sacrifice more. It usually is always worth it in the end. I think what I’m doing is worth it. I think my family understand. My kids are young. It is hard but it’s part of the job.
My opponent on Friday, Ionut Baluta is a very good fighter. Someone who’s gone in there and caused upsets time after time now. He obviously has early losses in his career but he’s improved, he’s come back, he’s kept working. He beat a former world champion, who was a very good world champion in T J Doheny, and he beat him well. Then he went and stopped David Oliver Joyce, my former Olympic team mate. He’s riding on a massive wave of confidence too.
I know on the night I’ll go in and put on a destructive performance and I believe I’ll KO him. KO him clean. I really want to go in and take his head off his shoulders. For Ireland I’ll just go in and do the job. It’ll be great to get revenge for Davey. I’m going to go in and try and KO this guy. If I don’t KO him, I’ll completely destroy him no matter what.
I’m basically already mandatory for Stephen Fulton’s WBO title but this is to solidify that, with Baluta number nine in the WBO rankings. I was supposed to have the fight for the belt next but it seems Stephen Fulton has got a fight lined up with the winner of Luis Nery and Brandon Figueroa, who haven’t even boxed yet, in September. The winner of that will have to face to me. It could work even better for me because I could be fighting for two belts. I think I’ll box in August again and then fight for the belt in the winter. There’s a possibility in August we could be back in the Feile again and what a fantastic setting, what a fantastic venue to have our first big show back in the city. That would be amazing. It would be even better to have Stephen Fulton come to Belfast and fight in the Feile. Have a fantastic world champion like him coming to face me in my backyard. It would say a lot about him. He would have the heart and the guts and the balls to come to Belfast to put his belt on the line. It’s not out of the question.
When Carl Frampton retired I heard many people say it’s a passing of the torch kind of thing. But I think that’s more up to the people to decide than me. I think I can be the man to do it. It would be an honour. I believe I’ll be world champion very soon.
Once I win my belt I want to face Murodjon Akhmadaliev, the IBF and WBA titlist, in a unification. Possibly for all four belts, that would be unbelievable. A repeat of the 2015 amateur World final, which I won. He’s a fantastic fighter, a fantastic champion. He punches really hard. He’s also technically very good. He’s the only person who’s ever put me on my arse. I’m sure he’d be really confident of doing that again but I’d also be really confident of going in there and beating him. That’s the name of the game – it’s not about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep going. I would be really up for that fight.