Hardcore sparring sessions with UFC star Robert Whittaker have only fuelled Tim Tszyu's belief that Dennis Hogan looms as less than a roadblock to an inevitable world title fight.
Hogan is convinced he will shatter Tszyu's undefeated record in their super-welterweight showdown at Newcastle Entertainment Centre on March 31.
But Australia's budding boxing superstar could't even promise fans they'll see him in the ring for any longer than it took Tszyu to stop Kiwi Bowyn Morgan inside two minutes in his most recent outing in December.
"For me, one round, I was pretty happy with that. I wasn't sore the next day," Tszyu said of his dismantling of Morgan after his latest session with Whittaker on Tuesday.
"So what I can promise to my fans is that I'm going to give it my best.
"I'll be in the best shape of my career and that means it can only end with one option."
The World Boxing Organisation announced on the eve of Tszyu's fight late last year that it had been elevated to a world title eliminator.
The WBO said the winner would face either Brazilian belt holder Patrick Teixeira or Argentina's No.1-ranked challenger Brian Castano for the world junior middleweight title.
But the goal posts were moved because of COVID-19 and now Tszyu must improve his perfect 17-win record with victory over Hogan to get a shot at Castano.
"Oh look, I can't control anything. It's what's in front of me that matters and right now it's Dennis Hogan," Tszyu said.
"What's in the future is what's going to happen.
"I can only take one step at a time. I know the world title's one fight away.
"I'm rated No.1 in the world so it just means that there's only one guy in front of me."
Tszyu has had several sessions with Whittaker over the past fortnight and believes sparring with an accomplished mixed martial artist some 15kg heavier has been perfect preparation for his clash with Hogan (29-3).
"He (Whittaker) is unorthodox. He comes with different angles, he's got power in both hands and he moves good," Tszyu said.
"So it's great to have a guy in front of you with experience like that and to be able to move around with him.
"We're both trying to progress in our careers and it's helping both of us out."
Tszyu's famous father Kostya's advice has always been to avoid getting hit but the 26-year-old said that's not realistic against Whittaker.
"You try and not get hit, obviously, but it's boxing. You get hit. It's going to happen no matter what," he said.
"And of course you feel them (but) I'm feeling fit, I'm feeling strong and I'm in the ring with Rob, who's 15, 20 kilos heavier than me and I'm able to take it and keep walking.
"So everything's going good."
Australian Associated Press