Boxers wait for years to trade blows with a world champion '“ this Sheffield middleweight has done it before his first pro fight!
Sheffield's Shakiel Thompson launches his professional career on Friday content that he can already hold his own with a world champion.Â
The Wincobank novice has had three sparring sessions with Ingle-trained Billy Joe Saunders and says he was never outgunned.
That should stand him in good stead when Thompson faces Nicaraguan Geiboord Omier at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Norton.
"It's been a long, hard camp, I've been training twice a day, I am more than ready, I can't wait for it' he said.
"You can't get better than Billy Joe Saunders.
"He has seen me box, definitely likes what he sees and we managed to get some sparring.
"It was a good experience. We sparred three times. They have been good hard spars, it is what you need."
The 24-year-old Roger Sampson-trained boxer accepts he should have been comprehensively out-maneuvered by Saunders but claims: "It didn't happen that way."
Thompson, who works for The Star's parent company Johnston Press, described Omier (4-30-1) as a "tough, tough competitor" Â - oneÂ that had beaten another English debutant Anthony Manning, last year.
He says you cannot take any opponent for granted: "When you are in that ring in those small 10 ounce gloves anything can happen."
He admits he will be nervous: "But to be honest with the preparation that I have done - all the hard work is done - I am more than confident."
*Saunders could lose his WBO middleweight title after being refused a licence to fight against Demetrius Andrade.
Saunders, 29, returned an "adverse finding" in a Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (Vada) test in August.Â The Massachusetts State Athletic Commission, which was due to sanction his title defence in Boston on October 20, has denied him a licence.
Saunders has the right to appeal, his promoter Frank Warren said the substance in question was in a "common decongestant nasal spray."