SOUTH Essex pro Matt McCarthy is preparing for the biggest night of his professional career.
The fighter – who trains under Mark Bates at Corringham’s Spartans Gym – has been a revelation since he turned pro in the early summer of 2012.
The former Chadwell ABC amateur will fight former IBF world title contender and three times WBO European champion Giuseppe Lauri at London’s famous York Hall on April 27.
And although 36-year-old Lauri is getting a little long in the tooth, McCarthy knows that this will be his biggest test yet.
McCarthy said: “I feel I need to test myself against real class opposition now.
“I’ve had a number of fights against mediocre opposition but it’s time to step up and take on a fighter so I can take my game to the next level.
“I feel strong and fast and ready. And this is going to be big for me because he’s an impressive fighter and has been in the ring against some of the world’s best, including Ricky Hatton.
“Giueseppe’s won 53 fights, drawn 33 and only lost 12 so he’s a very talented fighter.
“Older fighters are dangerous guys. They are just as strong and hit just as hard, but they can lose a bit of their speed so I’ve already been working on ways of taking him on.”
Gym work has included sparring sessions against Mark Rice, Stanford’s “John” Wayne Hibbert and Brentwood-based Southern Area contender Chris Agabua.
And McCarthy knows that the six, three minute rounds will test him – although he hopes to take a big following of supporters, family and friends to York Hall.
“I’ve been working on planting more punches, getting my shots more accurate and through a guard, and also keeping my hands up more.
“As a pro it’s easy to get a little sloppy against some opposition and not keep your guard up enough.
“But I’ve got to watch this against Lauri because he’s got the technique and the power to hit hard.
“He’s knocked out 33 fighters, so he’s still a real force. I think that I am one of the fastest welterweights around and I can switch from orthodox to southpaw easily.
“I like to have a look at my rival and if he’s uncomfortable against a southpaw I’ll switch to that.
“I can hit as fast and as hard with both hands.”
But despite McCarthy’s confidence, Mark Bates has been puting his protege through plenty of drills to get him even sharper in time for the bout.
Bethnal Green’s York Hall is a favourite venue for McCarthy – he won his second ever pro fight there when his battle with Slovakian Jules Raphael was stopped in the third round.
His last couple of pro fights have seen him totally outclass the opposition which has meant that the canny Bates now believes his man will get more from a step up in class.
And the neat, aggressive and hard-hitting McCarthy knows that defeating Lauri would catapult him up the standings and nearer his ambition of making it as a true European class fighter.
McCarthy added: “I need a big step up. I kept getting offered average boys, but it’s time I took on somebody with real class to show what I’m capable of.
“I have not proved myself at this level before but it will be great for me to beat him . I feel in great shape and really ready for the fight,” he added.