Ricky Little is closing in on his British-title dream after swapping bacon butties for boxing.
Little gets home advantage when he defends his Southern Area super-flyweight championship against Jack Hughes in Southampton on Saturday, October 5.
Little was a 96-94 points winner when they battled for the vacant belt at the York Hall last December – and the rematch goes ahead in his home city on a show promoted by Steve Bendall, the former British, Commonwealth and European title challenger.
For Little, it is his first fight in Southampton since a points win over Patrik Bartos two-and-a-half years ago and the 28 year old says much has changed since then.
“I lost to a journeyman (Sergey Tasimov) and knew things had to change,” he said.
“I was running myself into the ground. I had a cafe and a couple of burger vans and decided to sell then cafe and chase my dream of fighting for the British title. I wouldn’t stop until it’s happened.
“It’s a realistic goal now I’m training full time. I can run a cafe when I’m 50, but I can’t box when I’m 50. The burger vans are still in the yard ready for when I quit boxing.”
Little was a late comer to boxing, starting in white collar.
From the start, he’s been trained by Paul Dyer, a hard-as-nails former Southern Area welterweight champion who had some crowdpleasing fights in front of the BBC cameras in the early 2000s.
“I had six or seven with Paul,” remembered Little, “and he said to me one day: ‘There’s something about you I like. There’s not many at your weight and I think you could do something. Let’s turn pro together.’”
Their best night so far came at the York Hall last December when Little captured the Southern Area title.
“It was a big step up for me,” he said. “I had only done four rounds before and it was in the back of my mind that I didn’t want to burn myself out. I was holding myself back. I had that doubt: ‘Can I get through the 10 rounds ?’
“I remember sitting on my stool and seeing that round nine was next and I still had plenty left in the tank. I could have done 12 rounds. Now I’ve done the 10 rounds I know I can up my workrate and maybe get the stoppage.”