“Climbing up on Solsbury Hill, I could see the city light…”
Except it’s not just the city light in sight for Jazza Dickens now when he does his Everton Valley hill sprints at ridiculous o’clock. He can see the light at the end of the world title shot tunnel.
On Friday night, at the famous York Hall venue in Bethnal Green, London, the former two-time British champion looks to take another step towards a life-changing opportunity.
Dickens will meet Leigh Wood, exclusively live on Sky Sports in the UK and ESPN + Stateside, after drawing the current Commonwealth and WBO European champion at Tuesday’s draw.
”There are three really good fighters, other than myself, left in the competition,” Jazza said. “They are all very good in their own way, and their different styles will make great fights for different reasons.”
While Jazza, trained in Liverpool by George Vaughan and Derry Mathews, will have an unwavering focus on Dave Coldwell-managed Wood, the other two semi-finalists, Ryan Walsh and Tyrone McCullagh –– a former stablemate of Dickens’ ––, will be familiarising themselves with each other.
The winners of each contest will meet in the final of the MTK Global-promoted Golden Contract tournament, with the last man standing earning a promotional deal with one of the world’s leading outfits as well as a sizeable chunk of money.
And Dickens is delighted to have some stability after entering the competition.
“It’s brilliant,” he said. “This is why I’m flourishing and getting better and better at a stage in my career where you would expect the opposite. I’ve been persistent, and now I’m grateful for my opportunities.”
Dickens is a former challenger for world honours, having lost by stoppage to talented Cuban Guillermo Rigondeaux in Cardiff three-and-a-half years ago, and having had a taste, he wants to go one step further and reach the top of the mountain.
“I don’t focus on the opposition, I prepare to be the best version of myself, and that’s what I believe I will be when I step into that ring.
“I’ve finally got activity, and I like a challenge, those two things make my balls tingle.”
York Hall has long been a fabled arena in British boxing, with some calling it the sport’s spiritual home, but Jazza isn’t concerned about where he fights. He’s just happy that he’s doing what he loves.
“The venue isn’t a concern of mine, that part is for the fans,” he continued. “If they like it then I’m happy. My venue is inside those ropes; it looks the same no matter where I am. I have a plan, and it’s always been the same. This tournament, and a win on Friday night, will just get me a step closer to being able to tick the box, to be able to complete that plan.
“I’m sitting at number two in the world right now with the IBF. I could sit out and wait my turn, but I’m not made that way. I just love to fight, and I’m desperate to get to the top.
“I’ve been waiting a long time [for another shot at the world title], but I can feel it. It’s close!
“It’s been one hell of a story so far, and I can’t wait to give those loyal fans, the ones who spend their hard-earned money to come and watch me fight, that prize of a world title belt.”