Unbeaten Dumbarton welterweight Martin Harkin will fight for the first major honour of his career next week after being lined up for a crack at the vacant BBBofC Celtic title.

The 26-year-old will take on Northern Irishman Lewis Crocker on December 7 at the Titanic Exhibition Centre in Belfast on the undercard of the Conrad Cummings v Brian Rose bout for the vacant WBO European middleweight title.

Crocker, who like Harkin, also boasts an unbeaten record and has caused a stir with a string of brutal knockouts in his seven professional bouts, is promoted by Frank Warren and is seen by Belfast boxing hero Carl Frampton as one of the brightest talents in the sport.

But having extended his own unbeaten record to eight wins from eight pro fights last month at the Lagoon Centre in Paisley after forcing Welshman Chris Jenkinson to retire in the second round, Harkin isn’t fazed by the 21-year-old’s explosive power or the hype surrounding him.

“I do actually really rate Crocker. He’s a top fighter,” Harkin admits. “He’s doing everything right on paper and finishing people. He’s got six knockouts from his seven fights so he is the real deal. What people might not know, though, is that the calibre of his seven opponents are well below the level I’ve faced. He’s only really faced journeymen and been built up by his big promotion company. I take confidence away from that.

“He’s not fought anyone like me. I’m not just going over there to get paid and help boost his record. I’m there to take him out, whereas the journeymen are motivated by money. They show up to get paid, I’m showing up to take the belt home. This will be his first real test and I believe I’ve fought at a better level so far - unlike him, I’ve fought guys who’ve come to win.

“I firmly believe that Crocker has a false sense of security at the moment too with the likes of Carl Frampton and Frank Warren hyping him up. My trainer always says that when people hype you up or say you’re the next big thing, you tend to believe it which can then make you look ahead or get complacent. I just believe in myself, though, I don’t need anyone bigging me up.”

The Frampton hype, the backing of his management company, MTK Global, and the fact that he has been promised fights beyond the Harkin bout, however, is what Dumbarton brawler believes will lead to the Northern Irishman’s downfall come December 7.

“Even though he’s said he’s not looking past me, you can definitely tell it’s crossed his mind,” Harkin told the Reporter. “You can see from the way he’s speaking and his attitude that he’s already looking ahead to the bigger fights he’s been promised. That’s a mistake right there - you can never look past me.

“My attitude and focus is solely on this fight and winning this belt. I don’t see anything after that so I’m putting all my energy and emphasis on this one fight.

“This sport is too dangerous to overlook anyone at any level. It doesn’t matter who you are, if you get hit on the chin correctly, you’re going down. It doesn’t matter if you’re a world champion or if world champion’s like Frampton are saying you’re going to be the next world champion, if you get hit properly, you’ll go down. And I will hit him.”

With all eight of Harkin’s pro outings taking place in Scotland, it came as somewhat of a surprise when the Belfast bout cropped up. However, with years of amateur success all over the world, Harkin is adamant he won’t be unnerved by a partisan crowd and isn’t fussed with the prospect of biased judges scoring in favour of the home fighter.

He said: “I am going into his backyard to take the fight, but he’s with a big global promotion company so the money has been invested in him which is why I need to go over there. You need to take these chances, though, because boxing is such a short career so you only get a limited amount of chances.

“As far as fighting outside of Scotland, I’m not really fazed by that at all. I have boxed all over the world as an amateur so although all my pro fights have been in Scotland, travelling for a fight is nothing new to me.

“There was no hesitation from me to take this chance - I took it in the blink of an eye. It didn’t matter where it was, it’s still just a ring at the end of the day and it’s still just us two facing each other once that bell rings. He’ll have the crowd and everyone will be shouting abuse at me but, to be honest, that doesn’t bother me at all. It’s just us in the ring so nothing else matters.”

Speaking to MTK Global, Crocker said: “It’s a breakout opportunity for me. If I get this one out of the way then there are big potential fight for me next year, but I’m not looking past Harkin in any way.”

Harkin v Crocker will be streamed live on www.youtube.com/iFilmLdnProductions on Friday, December 7.