Richard Towers insists he is ready to shake up the heavyweight division as he prepares to take on Frenchman Gregory Tony on Saturday.
Sheffield heavyweight relishing his new lease of life
He may have spent half his adult life behind bars, but unbeaten heavyweight Richard Towers will take another step on the title trail on Saturday night.
Towers will take on Frenchman Gregory Tony for the EU title on the undercard of Scott Quigg v Rendall Munroe in Manchester - the 14th fight of his professional career.
Promoter Ricky Hatton is anxious to move Towers on quickly after the likeable Sheffield boxer served more than half of a 13-year jail term for his part in a kidnapping.
Now 32 and back at Brendan Ingle's Wincobank gym he once frequented as a teenager, Towers has put all that behind him and is looking forward to a much brighter future.
"On Saturday I want to put a strong message out there, it's my first 12-rounder and my first title shot," the 6ft 8in Towers told Sky Sports
. "I've not really got that on my mind on that though.
"I just want to get in there and send a very strong message to everyone in the heavyweight division that I'm coming and I'm not here to play games. I'm taking it very seriously."
At 16, Towers had a decent future ahead of him but he disappeared from the Ingle gym and wound up behind bars for attempted murder, the first in a string of felonies that climaxed with 'the biggie' as he calls it.
But on leaving prison, Towers knew there was only one path to tread if he was to survive on the outside - and that path led straight back to Wincobank.
"Eight years ago I remember thinking I don't know what I'm going to do," he admitted. "I've always had some good friends around me, trying to guide me on the right path, but when you're young you think you know better.
"I didn't know what I wanted to do, but the first day I got out I recalled being in Brendan's gym at 16, and being quite effective, so I was back there in the gym on my second day and I was basically the victim for the next two years.
"I sparred with the likes of Kell Brook and Junior Witter, and they ran circles around me, big and strong as I was. So I got a harsh lesson getting beaten up for two years, but here I am and looking back on everything it's amazing how it's all happened.
"I'm not a religious man but I definitely believe somebody is putting the right people in place for me to get to a certain place. Luck's definitely in my corner."
While some fighters are reaching the end of their career at 32, Towers is just getting started and he believes his time behind bars could have given him a lifeline inside the ring as well as out.
"I do feel quite fresh mentally and physically," he said. "I think a big factor in me doing seven years, without glorifying or justifying it, is I've been put on ice.
"I've not been subjected to late nights, getting involved in different relationships and with regard to physical health such as drinking or smoking, I've never been involved in anything like that so I do feel young and fresh.
"When I'm doing the runs with the guys I'm blowing them all away so I definitely feel like I'm making headway and not going backwards. All I know is Brendan tells me to put the time in and the rewards will come, and I'm just waiting to see - that's all we can do."
Towers has stopped 10 of his 13 opponents, going the full eight rounds with the durable Ismail Abdoul last year, but believes he is ready to step up to the so-called 'championship rounds'.
"It's very nerve wracking jumping up to 8-10 rounders," said Towers, who tipped the scales at 16st 12lb on Friday, one pound lighter than his opponent. "But we do so much in the gym, you only have to look at Dominic (Ingle's) physique to know he doesn't just talk it and teach it, he lives it.
"That's the difference between knowing what we're capable of to the theory of it. We're doing it, we've done everything we could possibly do, and the Ingles have been in the game for years. They know what it takes, I trust them wholeheartedly and if they say I'm ready, I'm ready.
"I feel in peak condition, I feel trim and dangerous. I love how things are going, the progress I'm making and it's all thanks to Dom, Brendan and my family. I'm in a brilliant position and I'm embracing it with both hands."
Saturday's opponent Tony is certainly a step up for Towers, with the Frenchman earning 14 of his 17 wins by stoppage, although he has also been KO'd by both Robert Helenius and Mike Perez - so it should be good while it lasts.