Callum Johnson believes his battle with Sean Monaghan will be the most important fight of his career.
The Boston boxer will return to the ring for the first time since his world title fight defeat to Artur Beterbiev when he faces American Monaghan in Verona, New York, early next month.
And he says that responding to his first pro defeat with victory is the best way to earn himself another shot at glory.
“The pressure’s not the same as it was last time. But this is the most important fight of my career,” he told The Standard.
“If I lose this fight then people will question where I can go. If I win it then I’m possibly looking at another world title shot.
“It’s an important fight. I know that and I’m putting everything into it.”
Beating experienced Monaghan will be no easy task, the 37-year-old having only lost two of the 31 bouts in his nine-year pro career – even if they have arrived within his past three fights.
But while Johnson, 33, will fly out to the USA brimming with confidence on Sunday, he also believes the manner of victory is just as important.
“I’ve got to go there and, not only win, but win well,” he continued.
“I’ve got to impress people and turn heads to get another title shot. It might not be enough if I scrape through on points.”
Johnson had won all 17 of his professional fights before October’s defeat to IBF light heavyweight champion Beterbiev in Chicago.
And while the Bostonian says he has learnt plenty both physically and mentally from that battle, in which he became the first person to send Beterbiev crashing to the canvas, he has discovered a new-found freshness after making a few minor tweaks.
“Often at this stage of camp you feel tired, but I’m feeling fresh,” he added.
“I’m ready to go. This week I’ll be working hard and just putting the finishing touches on it with a couple of sparring sessions.
“I’ve changed my nutritionist and I’m feeling more benefit from it. I feel more charged and more fit.”
Johnson and Monaghan will meet at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino on March 9.
The fight will be broadcast on Sky Sports.