Denaby Main’s Terri Harper set for world title fight – in just her eighth professional contest
The opportunity may have come very early in her career but Terri Harper is in no doubt that she is ready to become a world champion.
The Denaby Main fighter will face South Africa's Nozipho Bell for the vacant IBO super featherweight title at Rotherham’s Magna Centre on Friday night.
And when the bell rings it will signal the start of only her eighth professional contest.
When she joined the pro ranks a little more than 18 months ago, the initial plan was for her to feel her way gently into the fight game and not step up in class until her record contained double figures.
Remarkable progress and with a WBC International title already collected in her burgeoning career, Harper has made major waves in the female fight game and is well positioned among the top prospects in the country.
She can cement such status on Friday night by lifting the IBO strap, which should throw the door wide open to opportunities at more prestigious titles in the future.
And she insists the time is right to elevate herself to global glory.
“We're going at a good pace really,” she told the Free Press.
“Everything has just built nice and we feel like we're ready.
"This is a big step up and it's a good test to see where I'm at.
"I've very confident.
“I've had a good camp and I need to remind myself when I get in there that I've done everything I possibly can.
“I was out in Spain for two weeks so there were no distractions.
“I was focused on boxing for two weeks and I was pushed really hard.
"I feel like I've benefited a lot from that with my fitness.
“I’m ready for this one and I’m going to make it all count.”
Harper has had little opportunity to study opponent Bell, who pushed WBO champion Ewa Brodnicka to the limit in a title challenge late last year.
Video footage of her rival is hard to come by but Harper knows full well she will face a fearsome test on Friday night.
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"There's only two rounds that we've seen and we've seen she loads her back hand up,” the 22-year-old said.
“We've been working hard and keeping that in mind.
"There's very minimal footage of her but it's about having trust in my own ability.
"I can get in the ring and quickly adapt. I can have confidence in that.
"I'm not just turning up to win. She's got chance to change her life and win a world title.
"She's got a lot of support in South Africa.
"I've had to try to blank that out and just get on with things."
Harper stands on the cusp of history with the opportunity to become only the second Doncaster boxer to win a world title, after Jamie McDonnell.
She describes the opportunity as a dream come true but says she has had little problem dealing with the pressure that comes with it.
“I've had a few nerves when I think about what I could be achieving,” Harper said. "I'm just going to go in and do what I do best and hopefully come Friday I'll get the job done.
"I'm top of the bill and it's the first time I've done that.
"It's the main fight so I feel like I've got to put on a performance.
"The pressure is on to win the belt.
"A lot of people are hoping for me to win so I've got to do it for them.
"Then there's Andrew [Bullcroft, promoter], the amount he's invested in getting me this title shot and I feel like I need to get the win as a thank you to him.
“For any boxer or sportsperson it's the main thing that can can hope to achieve.
“To do that in only my eighth professional fight is amazing to think about.
“I do believe it will open many doors and this is the start of something crazy for me.”