Preston fighter Lisa Whiteside has dismissed suggestions that this weekend is a make-or-break period in her boxing career.
The 30-year-old Larches and Savick Amateur Boxing Club star faces a potential blockbuster bout against Olympic champion Nicola Adams on Sunday in the ABA Elite Championships at the Liverpool Arena.
The expected match-up – both fighters face a semi-final opponent before being seeded to meet in the final – has captured the imagination of fight fans across the country and in some quarters is being billed as a winner-takes-all encounter.
Both stars are bidding to secure the single spot in the 51kg weight category for the 2016 Olympic Games, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Team GB head coach Rob McCracken can only select either Whiteside or Adams, despite the fact that they have both proven themselves to be world-class performers.
After winning gold at the London Games and following that success with victory at last year’s Commonwealth Games, in Glasgow, Adams is heavily tipped to make the team for Rio.
But European champion Whiteside – who is two years Adams’ junior – is hungry to make up for lost time after missing out on selection for both the Olympic and Commonwealth Games.
Her dream is to compete at an Olympic Games and at the end of last year, she showed she can handle the big occasion by winning a silver medal at the World championships, in South Korea.
She was narrowly beaten by American Marlen Esparza in the final despite appearing to dominate much of the four-round bout.
Whiteside admits a lot will be on the line this weekend when she enters into the ring with Adams and if she can beat the reigning Olympic champion, it will put her in pole position to make the team for Rio.
But with the Games still more than a year off, she believes lot of other factors could still come under consideration such as form and fitness, before the final decision is made by McCracken.
“If anything it’s not a winner-takes-all encounter,” Whiteside told the Evening Post. “Because of the standard that we are both at, if it’s a close fight and the decision could have gone either way, it will be hard to work out who should go unless one of us really beats the other one convincing.
“But even then I still think it will come down to national performances over the next year. Obviously if – well I should say when – I get that win, it’s going to give me the upper hand isn’t it? It’s going to help me no doubt.
“There is a lot riding on it – there’s no getting away from it.”
Whiteside is not the only Larches and Savick star to be appearing in Liverpool. Commonwealth Games gold medal winner Scott Fitzgerald is the No.1 seed in the 69kg category, while Adam Simpson will compete in the quarter-finals of the 91kg class on Friday.