LEEDS boxer Jack Bateson naturally dreamed of showcasing his talents at Elland Road after turning professional.
The Yorkshireman did not envisage doing so in just his sixth fight as a pro.
As part of a “perfect day”, Bateson excelled on the undercard of Josh Warrington’s IBF featherweight world title showdown with Lee Selby in May, sweeping aside Jose Hernandez before seeing Warrington become world champion a few hours later in the main event.
With one dream fulfilled, Bateson is now honing in on his own ultimate ambition – to become champion of the world – with the 24-year-old taking inspiration from Warrington.
“He has gone there and done it, why can’t I?” he declares.
A European Championship bronze medallist and double ABA champion as an amateur, Bateson will take in the eighth fight of his pro career next Friday when fighting at the Leeds United Elland Road Banqueting Suite for the sixth time in his career.
After his first fight as a pro at the venue in September last year, the super bantamweight then excelled at First Direct Arena when defeating Kamil Jaworek the following month.
Yet Bateson would then fight at the ultimate Leeds stage just seven months later. Everything about the occasion of Saturday, May 19 will stick long in the memory – from warming up in the Whites’ changing rooms to excelling in the ring himself before witnessing city compatriot Warrington become IBF featherweight champion of the world.
Still barely one year into life as a professional, Bateson admits he is a good couple of years away from challenging for world titles such as the green WBC belt he dreamed about as a boy. Yet he already has his eyes on the vacant British belt vacated by Thomas Ward and eventually sees no reason why he cannot then go on to claim his weight’s biggest belts of all.
“Obviously my ultimate goal is to be world champion but I am a good few years off that!” said Bateson.
“So it would be nice to do it the traditional way like Josh Warrington did it, get the English, get the British, go through the Commonwealth or European way but, you never know, opportunities come up and sometimes people grab them with both hands.
“I just can’t wait to have my first title as a pro and to fight on these big shows and headline them like Josh is doing.
“I remember when Josh boxed for the British and won that and then the Commonwealth and since then he has just gone from strength to strength.
“For me, my dream as a young kid has always been winning a world title.
“I see the green WBC belt and stuff and it was always something that has stuck in my head.
“But, being realistic, I do think I can achieve that and Josh has given me that inspiration. I remember as a kid watching Josh fight at these small working men’s club amateur shows and supporting him and seeing him come up.
“It just shows you that it can be done. Josh is a down to earth Leeds lad, he has gone there and done it, why can’t I do it?
“I have got the right team behind me, I have got the Leeds fans behind me so why can’t I go and do it? Josh has proven that it can be done, so I will give it my all.”
Those efforts so far have quickly led Bateson to seven wins out of seven bouts, rapid progress for a boxer whose next opponent was still to be confirmed this week.
“I put a few offers out and I didn’t get a right load of feedback in terms of people taking the fight,” explained Bateson.
“I am looking to step up each time now and to get a decent opponent at this stage of their career can be quite tricky.
“This year has been a very busy year and by the start of next year I am hoping to get to 10-0 by getting a couple more fights.
“Then, towards the back end of next year I want to start pushing for titles, eight rounders, ten rounders. I feel I have had a lot of experience of the boxing game whether it’s amateur or pro and by the end of next year I should be ready to be let off the leash.
“I think I will probably start off going the traditional route, there’s Central Area, English, British. The British title has just been vacated by a lad called Thomas Ward, who I have been sparring with in the last couple of weeks.
“I think he is looking to move on to world honours now with the IBF but I’ve done really well with Tom, he has good things to say about me this week and it’s there to be taken.
“I would love to win a British title. I have always dreamed of being able to win one and to give it to my dad. It’s always been a title that he has been very fond of and I would love to be able to give him one and say ‘this is for you’.”
Bateson’s dad, Mark, is the boxer’s manager and trainer with uncle Martin head trainer.
And, continuing the city’s Leeds United and boxing ties, Bateson’s strength and conditioning coach is none other than former Whites midfielder David Norris.
Bateson explained: “When I left the amateur GB set up he got in touch with me and he said have you got a strength and conditioning coach? I said I will come down and try it out with you and we just clicked. Ever since then I have been working with him and he has brought me on leaps and bounds.
“I travel to Pontefract to train with him twice a week and I am training with him and my uncle Martin and pretty much going around the country sparring these different fighters.
“I am really enjoying it, it’s totally different to the amateurs but I am loving it.”
Reflecting on an amateur career that featured two ABAs and a European Championships bronze – but ultimately no shot at the Olympics – Bateson pondered: “I’d say the Europeans bronze is probably my highlight looking back and obviously the two ABA titles. I have got good memories from the amateurs.
“I have made some great friends that have become like family – all the lads down on GB and it’s great to see them all doing so well and some of them have gone and done big things. Nicola Adams is on the verge of a world title now and it’s good to see.
“I am still in touch with a lot of them, even some that are still in the GB set up.
“It was all great memories and stuff but that’s all in the past.
“As a pro I am pretty much fresh and half new.
“I have got a lot to prove with me not going to the Olympics in the end as an amateur.
“But that is just added fuel for the fire.”