NUMBERING Floyd Mayweather, Kostya Tszyu, Mike Tyson and Mohammad Ali among his boxing heroes, Wagga fighter Raymond Thompson is convinced he is ready for his professional debut in the ring.
After eight years and 36 amateur bouts, Thompson, 28, will fight for the first time as a pro on the "Lights Out in Lakemba" card in Sydney tomorrow night.
Speaking to The Daily Advertiser before a light workout at the PCYC in Wagga yesterday, Thompson revealed he would be jumping into the ring with his "eyes wide open".
"I took a lot of convincing (to turn pro)," Thompson said.
"I know I have to be disciplined and dedicated to be a professional boxer."
Heading into a four-round confrontation with ominously tagged Abdallah "The Assassin" Hassan, Thompson admitted he had been building most of his adult life for the epic occasion.
"I don't drink alcohol except for a little at the Christmas festive period, and I've always eaten healthy," Thompson said.
"The only change I've made is to eat healthier to keep my weight down."
Trained in Wagga by Geoff Lawler, Thompson says boxing greats Mayweather, Tszyu, Tyson and Ali were his inspiration to fight as a professional.
Significantly, however, Thompson is also a devout follower of the boxing ethos of eight-time world champion Mayweather.
"He's (Mayweather) very disciplined," Thompson said.
"That's been his trademark."
A year on from the decision to join the professional ranks, Thompson thinks he knows what he has to do to take the sting out of his Sydney opponent.
"I have to keep coming forward," Thompson said.
"I'll always be on the move.
"I have to stay on him."
True to the Mayweather work ethic, Thompson has done his homework on Hassan, a fighter with the experience of several bouts as a professional.
"I had a look at his last pro fight (on video)," the Wagga boxer said.
"He seems a bit of goer, not a brawler.
"I'll have to keep my wits about me."
Set to drive to Sydney today for the official weigh-in at 5pm, Thompson boasts 22 victories as an amateur and is fiercely determined not to be a one-bout wonder as a pro.
"I've got another fight scheduled for February 23," he said.
"I'll be moving on up."