Luke Jackson has an added incentive to win next week’s showdown with Carl Frampton.
In addition to claiming a maiden interim WBO world featherweight title, extending his pro record to 17-0-0 would earn the Tasmanian the distinction of Australia’s leading pound-for-pound fighter.
Jackson, 33, currently sits 10th in the Aus-Boxing ratings but could displace his former London Olympic teammate Jeff Horn (18-1-1) in top spot.
Since winning his first pro fight against Thailand’s Kittikun Korpungklang in May 2013 with a technical knockout, this is the date Jackson has been working towards.
A hugely successful amateur with appearances at Commonwealth Games (bronze medal in 2006), two world championships and the 2010 Olympic Games, the Hobart talent has so far been untouchable as a pro.
Seven of his 16 wins have come inside the distance and only one of his victories courtesy of judges involved a split decision – against Will Young for the Australian featherweight title in Toowoomba in March 2015.
WBA Oceania and WBO Oriental featherweight belts followed, with respective Hobart victories over Filipinos John Apolinario in May, 2016, and Silvester Lopez six months later.
A successful Oriental title defence against Mexican Humberto de Santiago followed last September before a routine destruction of Surachet Tongmala in April, with six of Jackson’s last eight fights in front of his home-town fans.
But he knows an unheralded Thai with 10 defeats among his 17 fights will be a huge contrast to the challenge awaiting him in Northern Ireland.
Frampton is a 31-year-old veteran pro, whose only defeat in 26 fights came against Leo Santa Cruz in a WBA world title bout in Las Vegas in January 2017.
Having inflicted the only defeat in Santa Cruz’s 36-fight career six months earlier in New York, Frampton has since bounced back with unanimous points decision wins at Belfast’s SSE Arena over another Mexican, Horacio Garcia, last November and Nonito Donaire, of the Philippines, in April.
The August 18 date with Jackson also marks a significant step up for Frampton who will grace his country’s national football stadium Windsor Park on a bill that also includes Britain’s former WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight champion Tyson Fury.
The fight is unquestionably the biggest – and certainly heftiest payday – in Jackson’s 16-year boxing career.
And Belfast 2018 is a long way in time and distance from New Norfolk 2002 when the high school dropout from Clarendon Vale won his first fight.
But he will draw inspiration from a fellow Tasmanian for a fight that will be shown live in Australia on Fox on morning of Sunday, August 19.
If Daniel Geale can twice defeat Germans in Germany, an Irishman in Belfast is well within his 173cm reach.