Anthony Crolla hopes a victory over Gavin Rees will earn him a crack at WBO lightweight champion Ricky Burns.
The affable Mancunian knows he cannot overlook the threat Rees will bring when they lock horns on Matchroom Sport’s June 29 show at the Bolton Arena.
But a potential clash with Burns could be in offing later in the year and for Crolla it’s an opportunity too big for him to simply ignore.
"This is for the WBO intercontinental title so that gives the winner a ranking, but some people are saying this fight could serve as a world title eliminator," he said.
"Obviously Ricky Burns has got the WBO title so hopefully I can get a shot if I beat Gavin Rees.
"That doesn’t mean I’m looking past Rees, though. He’s a fighter I really rate and someone I have the utmost respect for."
Despite the match-up happening just a stone’s throw from Crolla’s home, Rees will start the fight as a clear favourite.
The diminutive Welshman has previously held a version of the world title up at light-welterweight and recently challenged fast-rising superstar Adrien Broner for his WBC lightweight crown in the United States. He also has a better record against common opponent Derry Mathews.
Crolla (25-4-1) said: "I’m under no illusions. I know I’m going to start as an underdog, but I’m a big believer that styles make fights and I believe I’ve got the right style to beat Gavin Rees.
"It’s going to be a very tough fight and I might have to go through hell and back but I genuinely believe this is a fight I can win.
"I don’t know if it’s because there’s less pressure or not, but being an underdog in the past has always brought the best out of me and I expect it to again."