The 29-year-old overcame last-minute stand-in Genadij Krajevskij on points last Friday in the first of seven shows hosted in the Sheffield Arena car park by promoter Dennis Hobson’s Fightzone.
He was originally due to defend his belt against James Moorcroft but the bout fell through when the Wigan fighter, coming off the back of a loss, failed to get sanctioned.
But, desperate for a return to the ring after 15 months out of action owing to the coronavirus pandemic, ‘The Truth’, who was close to championship weight, accepted an offer to move up two divisions at three days notice after failing to find an opponent at welterweight level.
Just 24 hours later, however, his would-be opponent dropped out. Fortunately for Tomlinson, Krajevskij, whose last fight was a light heavyweight bout with Tommy Fury, stepped in at the eleventh hour.
“We tried everybody at my division but nobody would accept the fight,” he said.
"Everyone is saying ‘I’m in the gym ready’, we had 50 or 60 people on a list but every one said no.
"It’s a blow. You see on social media saying ‘We are waiting for the phone to ring’ but when it does they aren’t. You do see it as a compliment and I can see my career’s going in the right direction.”
Tomlinson, who is originally from Norfolk Park and still lives in the city, moved to 13-0 after his latest win. His perfect record also includes seven knockouts.
"There was a massive weight difference but we stuck to a game plan to be sharp on our feet and show everybody I can box. I just out-boxed the kid, really.
"I felt I was sharper and quicker but when he clinched you could feel the weight difference.”
Despite the far-from-ideal build-up to the fight, The Truth was pleased with his night’s work.
He was cheered on by friends and family, including his 17-year-old brother Antwoine Hackford, who plays for Sheffield United and has also represented England at under-16 level.
"It was unbelievable,” Tomlinson admitted, “just great to be back to normality and seeing people.
"We have been living in this bubble for a long time and scared to do anything, it was great to see everybody come together. There was an unbelievable atmosphere.
"I had my aunt and uncle from my dad’s side of the family there, who have never been to a show before and they have said they are going to come to every single one now.”
Tomlinson, who trains at Manor Boxing Academy, will move back down to welterweight level following Friday’s one-off six-rounder and plans to return to the ring in August, with a title shot at European level in his sights.
"As soon as I get back off holiday I’ll be sitting down with my team and we will be planning my title fight,” he said.
"My career is definitely going in the right direction. I have always been telling people I’ve been boxing at about 40 or 50 per cent, I don’t think anyone has seen the full Anthony Tomlinson yet.
"I feel like the sky is the limit.”