KYLE HAYWOOD WAS not about to let the opportunity of fighting on BT Sport for the vacant Midlands Area title against CJ Challenger pass him by without giving it his undivided attention.

For the 27-year-old from Leicester, who faces fellow local lad Challenger for the super welterweight strap at the Morningside Arena next Saturday (March 23), this included giving up the day job to focus fully on putting one over a home city rival.

When he first got wind of his big TV break, Haywood decided he needed to devote himself fully to the job in hand and resign his employment as a joiner.

“I’ve been a pro for two years now and I’ve worked full-time over that period as a bench joiner,” reported the 5ft 9″ southpaw. “When I found out about this fight I handed in my notice.

“You could say it was a brave move but, for me, jobs can come and go but opportunities like this don’t always come about. I thought ‘this is it’, handed my notice in and we will see what happens.

“I’m in a great place now, the best I have ever been physically, mentally, everything.”

Local bragging rights are on the line as well as Midlands Area honours on the night and Haywood is not unfamiliar with his Leicester adversary. While not friends, they did belong to aligned amateur clubs and know each other from the boxing circuit.

Now the Leicester Two will be shoved into the national spotlight and Haywood is naturally enthused by the prospect.

“Yeah man, we’re both from a similar sort of area and we are both Leicester lads so, with Frank Warren putting on a show in Leicester, it will be about bragging rights – who is the best in Leicester?

“We are both unbeaten and it is a first real test for both of us. We both want to make a name for ourselves in professional boxing, so whoever wins this one will be propelled for future fights.

“We’ve both had learning fights and it will be the first time we have faced opposition with a winning record,” added the Carl Greaves-trained prospect, who went to reveal that the fight has caused quite a stir amongst the local population.

“It has been mad, with people ringing and texting me, it has been all over social media and some of the lads I know he knows as well. He went to school with my younger brother as well, so everyone is hyped for it.

“It has not been a struggle to sell tickets, put it that way.

“I think he is similar to me in that he is not a trash talker and is not going to try and say things about me. I wouldn’t say things about him, so it is quite tame on that side of things. It is a fight that sells itself and, around our area, it is one that everyone is talking about.

“It is brilliant, I still can’t believe it now and have to pinch myself. Looking back to when I turned professional, Frank Warren wasn’t really putting shows on in Leicester, but it has built up over the last couple of years and boxing in Leicester is taking off with some good fighters here now.

“Now I’ve got a TV slot and it is mad. It literally couldn’t get any better.”

CJ Challenger v Kyle Haywood for the vacant Midlands Area super welterweight title takes place at the Morningside Arena in Leicester on March 23 in support of the British super featherweight title clash between the champion Sam Bowen from Ibstock and the Scot Jordan McCorry.

Tickets are available from £40 are on sale NOW via Eventbrite

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