Peterborough cruiserweight Karl Wheeler is set to meet his promoter this week to decide what’s next after he came through his make-or-break fight with an emphatic win.
The 33 year-old said his career was over if he lost to Biola Kudus when they clashed for the vacant British Classic Challenge Belt at the York Hall in Bethnal Green on Saturday.
Wheeler admits he had a couple of shaky moments in the opening round when Kudus unloaded.
But he rallied superbly to drop the unbeaten Portsmouth fighter in the second.
Kudus beat the referee’s count, but was on wobbly legs and the fight was waved off.
Wheeler dropped to his knees, wept with joy and climbed out of the ring to celebrate with children Onri and Summer and fiancee Lisa Watton.
The win - possibly the best of Wheeler’s 18-fight career and certainly the most important - could set up a Southern Area title shot.
Canning Town southpaw Wadi Camacho currently holds the belt and Wheeler admits he isn’t keen to face a fighter he considers to be “a good friend.”
He added: “I’m starting to believe I can achieve something now. I’m not just a guy with a dream.
“I’m hoping this win opens doors for me. I will fight whoever they put in front of me and give it everything, but I’d rather not fight Wadi.
“He’s a good friend and if I’m honest, he’s a level above me at the moment.
“He wants the English and British titles and if he vacates the Southern Area title, maybe I can fight for it.
“I would also like a rematch with the guy who beat me, but I will leave it up to my team to decide what’s next for me.”
That six-round points loss to Yavor Marinchev in December left Wheeler at the crossroads.
He said: “If I lost again, I would have had to go out and look for a job to feed my family.
“But there was no way I was going to lose that fight.
“I wanted to win so badly.
“Winning is better than losing. It doesn’t hurt as much - and it doesn’t make my children cry either !”
Wheeler said his trainer Stephen Whitwell and fiancee were “the brains” behind his win.
He said: “I didn’t listen to Steve before my last fight, but this time I went out and did what he told me to do.
“Steve said he would come out and try to knock me out in the first round because they know I’m a slow starter and they think I’m chinny.
“Steve told me to stay away from his right hand, but he did catch me, my legs went and it took me a few seconds to get myself back together.
“Steve said in the corner at the end of the round: ‘You just took his best shot on the chin and it wasn’t too bad, so go for him.’
“I went out there and put everything into it.”
Early in the round, Wheeler smacked Kudus flush with a right hand to have him unravelling and went on to punch him to the floor with a two-fisted flurry.
Kudus was still badly dazed when he got up and the referee ruled he couldn’t continue.
Wheeler said afterwards: “I had to win the fight for Lisa.
“I owe her everything.
“Lisa believes in me 100 per cent. She’s the bread winner. She goes out to work and that allows me to box.
“I wouldn’t be able to box if it wasn’t for her.
“We’re going to enjoy this win for a while.
“Every time I think about what’s happened it brings tears to my eyes.”