Almost two years into a reign as world champion, and Terry Flanagan still awaits a defining fight that could shape how his career will be seen when all is said and done.
This Saturday night, his clash with Petr Petrov will go down as yet another overlooked defence of his WBO Lightweight title, but the importance of remaining on track is paramount if this avoided Mancunian is to face his moment in the spotlight.
One would forgive Terry for envying local rival Anthony Crolla and the magnitude of his recent duo of fights with Jorge Linares.
Indeed, Crolla lost on both occasions, but the packed out arenas and attention from across the globe was exactly what Flanagan craves.
Even in front of his home crowd at the Manchester Arena, Flanagan is sharing the spotlight in a night of great significance for the balance of British boxing, as BT Sport air their first card live in conjunction with BoxNation.
‘Balance’ being the key word.
Flanagan 32-0(13KO’s) must produce the sort of performance that drew rave reviews when he demolished the well-hyped Diego Magdaleno – and not the performances that drew criticism last year against Derry Mathews, Mzonke Fana and Orlando Cruz.
In Flanagan’s defence, they were hardly the most motivational trio of opponents, but the worry here is that neither is Petrov.
But the Russian is a familiar face to the boxing fraternity and brings a work rate that can give Flanagan the sort of challenge that one hopes will bring out the best in him.
Also, factor in that Terry Flanagan is back in Manchester, where he did not make an appearance as a Prizefighter last year, therefore the home crowd could bolster the level of performance from Flanagan.
Petrov 38-4-2 (19KO’s) has come a long way since being beaten down by the much bigger Marcos Maidana, proving his toughness at Lightweight by going the distance with Dejan Zlaticanin, but at the same time may have proven that he is still short of being a world class fighter.
His triumph in 2014’s Boxcino Tournament rejuvenated his career, but two spells of inactivity did little to help him close in on the big names at 135lbs.
At 34-years of age, Petrov has become part of the “who needs him” club.
But while the match-up does not bring many to the edge of their seats on paper, this contest is being overlooked.
Petrov is as deserving a world title challenger as one can find in the Lightweight division, and his aggressive nature makes for a clash of styles that has potential to produce fireworks.
If off guard, Flanagan could be dragged into a shock result here, but his superior boxing should see him through a hard-fought contest.
Petrov will be out the blocks quickest, but Flanagan will keep the contest at range, dropping a couple of early rounds in the process – with the output and aggression being favoured by the judges.
Flanagan will soon find a comfortable rhythm, from which he can keep the marauding Petrov at bay.
Terry Flanagan may have an opportunity to push for a stoppage near the contests end, but without taking too many risks on a night that could set up a defining contest in the summer, Flanagan will ease his way to a unanimous decision win.