Mark Schleibs feared this moment would never come.
The unbeaten featherweight known as "Magic Man" thought he may never box again when COVID-19 ran rampant through his home state of Victoria.
But now he is here, and Schleibs' promoter Jake Ellis says he has nothing to lose and everything to gain when he faces Brock Jarvis on December 11.
The script says Canberra's Exhibition Park will mark the next checkpoint on Jarvis' road to a world title opportunity having already moved to 17-0 at just 23 years of age.
Yet Schleibs has little interest in following that script. He has his own legacy to forge, his own child to provide a future for, his own dreams under boxing's bright lights.
That is why he paints a picture of confidence when he steps inside a ring at Fyshwick's Stockade Training Centre, the gym he is calling home in the final stages of fight camp, preparing to take on a man who stands well above him when they face off.
"He's flying. He's 12-0 and doesn't know how to lose, like Brocky," Ellis said.
"The main thing you've got to remember is, Mark has got everything to gain and nothing to lose. This is a gain all, lose nothing.
"He's been sparring Gaige Ireland, former lightweight Australian champion. We've been sparring much bigger boys, he has been handling them very well and winning most of the rounds.
"As for the size disadvantage, we're confident. Even when he won his Australian title against Robert Trigg, that's a kid a lot of people were avoiding, no one really wanted to fight him and Mark put a clinic on.
"Based on those sort of performances and his sparring, we're confident. We would never have taken a fight if we didn't think there was a very good chance we were going to win.
"This is a fight Mark and his trainer Sam have wanted for a little while now. I know Jeff says he doesn't know Mark, that's weird because there is about six people in the whole division.
"We've obviously heard of Brocky for many years, being with Jeff. It's a fight we've always wanted and a fight we were always going to jump at when the opportunity came up."
Jarvis has long been touted as one of Australian boxing's brightest young prospects having trained under a legend of the sport in Jeff Fenech.
Both Jarvis and Schleibs have been forced to wait more than a year for this fight after the coronavirus pandemic threw sport and society into disarray.
Schleibs has not fought since August 2 2019, when he stopped Noldi Manakane inside one round. It gives him less than three minutes of in-ring action in more than 19 months.
Jarvis' last outing was a unanimous decision victory over Ernesto Saulong in Bendigo on August 31 last year, in a regional title bout which served as the co-main event to Michael Zerafa's stunning win over Jeff Horn.
Yet Fenech has little doubt his protege is a far better boxer this time around, so much so that he has fired warnings to the Schleibs camp about this fight being a mistake on their part.
"I've got to say this, the man I'm training now was a kid 14 or 15 months ago," Fenech said.
"He's a young man now, he's so different. I know what's going to happen, 'he was too big, this and that'. They're making the mistake.
"He's never prepared better for a fight. We've been sparring guys like Luke Jackson, guys who are heavier and world rated. Last year we were in America boxing with the best people in America.
"I know where the kid is at."
NATIONAL BOXING SERIES
NBS: Friday, December 11 - Brock Jarvis v Mark Schleibs at Coorong Pavilion, EPIC