Michael Conlan says he welcomes his world title credentials coming under increased scrutiny.
The Belfast boxer puts his unbeaten record on the line on Friday night against former world champion TJ Doheny at Falls Park.
It is the latest acid test for former amateur standout Conlan who is targeting a world title shot of his own later this year.
He is the 1/6 favourite to emerge victorious, but with every step up comes a sterner test of Conlan’s talents.
Doheny is a former IBF world super-bantwamweight champion who narrowly missed out on unifying the division against Daniel Roman.
At 34 years of age, many view this as a last chance saloon for the Portlaoise native, but Conlan says that makes his opponent a “dangerous man”.
Conlan said: “People will doubt me. TJ should be favourite going into this fight, and I approach this fight as the underdog.
“It doesn’t matter if you walk in first or second, I believe I am the underdog and I have a lot to prove. And I will prove it on Friday.
“I am stepping up every fight. And people will start casting doubts on me. That’s fine. Let them doubt.
“This is what you’re in it for. You’re not in it for the easy fights. You want the tough ones.
“These are career-defining fights where people will sit up and say ‘that was amazing’. I know I have to be on my A-game to win. This is my hardest test.”
He added: “TJ has been at the mountain top and won a world title. He is in a last chance saloon at the minute. He is ready to give it everything.
“I have every respect for him, but I have to beat the s*** out of him. And whether that’s a master class or fighting up close, I will decide when I am in there.
“I am willing to go into the trenches.”
The weight issue has dominated fight week, with the contest originally set for super-bantamweight (122lbs) before being moved up to 124lbs.
And earlier this week it was announced that the WBA interim featherweight (126lbs) title would be on the line.
Doheny claimed he was only notified of the WBA belt on Monday after preparing for a fight at super-bantam, while Conlan said his opponent knew of the 124lb catchweight two weeks ago.
There was added interest at Thursday’s weigh-in, with Doheny hitting the scales at 123.8lbs, while Conlan came in 2oz over the 124lb catchweight.
After seeing Conlan’s scale reading, Doheny and his trainer Hector Bermudez declared: “Oh, your man’s in trouble now.”
And as the Belfast crowd roared their support for Conlan, Doheny countered: “I don’t know what you’re clapping for, your man is in trouble.”