Ian Clarkson on key players in the attempt to revive the sport in Wolverhampton
The man charged with instigating a boxing revival in Wolverhampton will finally make his bow on Friday evening at Dunstall Park.
While Birmingham has endured a barren decade regarding champions, it has still been positively buoyant compared to its near-neighbour.
A barren wasteland would be an overtly generous term to describe Wolverhampton's recent influence on local boxing but Dean Harrison could be the man to change all of that.
While Dudley, West Bromwich, Telford and Walsall have all had their share of Midland Area champions over the last decade, their big brother hasn't been invited to the party.
However, emerging from the wilderness and schooled in Errol Johnson's renowned Wednesbury Boxing Academy is Harrison.
The 23-year-old light-welterweight possesses an impressive amateur pedigree and sparring with the likes of Young Mutley and Dean Hickman has only enhanced his stature.
Promoter Paul Rowson has been ubiquitous since procuring his licence 18 months ago and showcasing the rich vein of what he perceives to be untapped talent in Wolverhampton is part of his master plan.
It is a huge burden to sit on Harrison's shoulders but the pugilist is at ease with the growing expectation from within his home city.
The dinner show, which sees Mark Lloyd square up to Terry Adams for the British Masters light-middleweight title and Hickman continue his comeback, has already been cancelled once, just to add to Harrison's tension.
Yet there is a calm confidence about him that suggests his newly-acquired monastic lifestyle will harvest rich dividends.
He said: "I have no social life at present. I have had my time going out and having a drink and now I just want to concentrate on my boxing. In fact, I very rarely go out and people hardly ever see me any more. I am a bricklayer five days a week who gets up early to go straight to work and then straight to the gym. I need to concentrate on boxing full-time, so I have no time for any distractions."
If Harrison needs any advice regarding Peter Dunn, his inaugural opponent, then he is in good company at his Wednesbury base.
Stablemates Stuart Elwell, Marcus Portman, Paul McInnes and Mutley have all beaten the veteran Pontefract brawler although Wayne Downing was outpointed on his debut against the aforementioned Dunn.
But Harrison is a former semi-finalist in the ABA Championships and has international experience from his time as an amateur. That grooming has left him confidence personified at present and he has learned some valuable lessons from his sparring partners. "Sparring with Mutley and Hickman has taught me not to get hit as much," Harrison said with a laugh.
"There aren't many in the gym I haven't sparred with. They are all good people with a lot of different styles, as well. It keeps you on top all of the time.
"There will be a massive difference in the professional game, as the pace is slower, which seems to suit my style more. It was all amateurish and I have slowed it down after sparring with the professionals.
"I am looking forward to my professional debut, as Wolverhampton hasn't got much of a boxing scene at present and I hope I am the man to spark it off. I have sold about 100 tickets, which isn't bad for a dinner show at £55 a throw. I want to have a British title within three years and I think that is a realistic aim. That's my realistic aim, but I am hungry for more."
* For details of Friday's show and to book tickets, contact Paul Rowson (07976 283157).