Back in November 2011 Paul Smith may have been forgiven for thinking his chances of winning a world title were over.
The Liverpool-born fighter had just been stopped by George Groves after two round at Wembley Arena and faced serious questions over the direction.
This was his second defeat in four fights after he had lost to another young British fighter James De Gale. However, following four successive wins Smith now travels to Kiel, Germany to face Arthur Abraham for the WBO Super Middleweight title.
Paul Smith speaks
And the 31-year-old believes that the time is right for him to become a world champion. Speaking to Sky Sports he said: "Boxing is all about timing,”
“You look at all the great fights, all of the champions, and ask if the fight was made a few years earlier would it have been a different story?”
“Lewis-Tyson, Holyfield-Tyson, you look at those fights and timing is key in all of them. I believe timing is the key in this fight.”
Abraham, a veteran of 44 fights, is a worthy champion having regained the WBO title against compatriot Robert Stieglitz on points at the start of the year, following a shock knockout defeat 10 months before to the same fighter.
The 34-year-old has shared the ring with Andre Ward, Carl Froch, Jermain Taylor and Andre Dirrell so knows how to mix it with the best of opponents and Smith will have to be on top of his game if he is to bring the title back to England.
In a weight division that includes Groves and De Gale, both touted as future world champions, along with current WBA Unified champion Carl Froch, it may be a surprise to many that Smith has been given this opportunity.
But with the end of his boxing career on the horizon it was an opportunity the Liverpudlian could not turn down.
Going in to Abraham’s back yard is a brave decision for a fighter who has only boxed outside the UK on one occasion and Smith will know he will most likely have to knock his opponent out if he is to get a result.
The orthodox fighter, who boasts a record of 34(19)-3-0, is capable of delivering a knockout blow and will be hoping he can stop the fight prematurely and return home with a title around his waste.
The former British and Commenwealth super middleweight will be well aware that Abraham has never been knocked out in his four defeats, however he did suffer a disqualification at Dirrell.
But if Smith is to win the title he will have to believe in his ability to make the German number 19 on his list of knockout victories and will be able to draw from the support of 2,000 travelling fans in Germany.
Brothers in arms
With Smith fighting for a world title the pressure is on him to succeed. But not from his camp or his supporters, it comes from his family.
Paul is the eldest of four boxing brothers and told the Daily Star: I've got to do it first because I'm the eldest.”
The 31-year-old believes his younger brothers are capable of becoming world champions in their own right, saying: "I think I'm the debatable one. These three are nailed on to win a world title.”
29-year-old Stephen, a 2006 Commonwealth gold medallist fights in the featherweight division and has a record of 18(11)-1-0. 26-year-old Liam is a light welterweight who is unbeaten in 18 fights, winning 17, seven coming by knockout. But arguably the most promising is 23-year-old Callum who has won all 13 of his fights, stopping 10 within the distance.