AS he crooned the hot cross buns nursery rhyme into Sky Sport’s microphone, a dedication to his infant son, freshly crowned European champion Lerrone Richards could look forward to bigger fights against bigger names.

The New Malden super-middleweight had outscored Giovanni De Carolis over 12 rounds at the Manchester Arena on May 15. “I was totally switched on,” he said. “I was controlling the fight and dominating with the jab, when there were times he tried to engage with me, sometimes I mixed it with him and I sat in the pocket with him as well and showed him that I can do it too.

“He was a good fighter as well, with good pedigree so I’m very happy.”

“I’ve always known what I can do,” he added. “Not only am I happy that I’m European champion. I feel the way I won the title as well was impressive.”

He’s targeting Liverpool’s Rocky Fielding, the former Canelo Alvarez opponent, next. “It excites me,” Richards told Boxing News. “These are the sort of fights that I want to be involved in. Rocky Fielding’s achieved British, Commonwealth, he’s not won the European but he’s been a ‘world’ champion [winning a WBA secondary strap]. So I’ve got a lot of respect for Rocky Fielding as a fighter and it’ll be good. It’ll be a good fight, I’d really enjoy that. Winning that fight would definitely propel me into a position where I could fight for a world title. I don’t look too far ahead but when you win these big fights, doors open. Now I’m in a position where I can mention names.”

He continued, “I’ve collected these belts moving up. I can say I’d like to fight Rocky Fielding, I can say I’d like to fight Chris Eubank Jnr, whether they want to fight me or not is entirely up them. I’ve put myself now in the shop window.

“Start moving up the world rankings and start fighting fringe world contenders and learn my craft. Fight guys at a high level and see how good I am. I believe in progression and making the right moves at the right time and not skipping levels. The next level now is fringe world level.”

It has taken Richards years to reach this point. Although he won the Commonwealth belt against Tommy Langford in 2019 and secured the British title beating Lennox Clarke that year, he turned professional all the way back in 2013.

“Maybe I should have stayed amateur for a little bit longer but I made the choice and it’s made me the man I am today,” he said. “It’s been very hard. I wasn’t a bad amateur, I was a decent amateur. I didn’t get no big pro contract with anyone so I had to work my way up from the bottom. I was under [promoter] Miranda Carter, she’d put on her shows on Sundays in the beginning, just getting paid £50-a-fight. I was getting paid nothing but I just kept going because I thought to myself I’ll get there, I’ll get there. As long as I keep winning.

“I’ve been given nothing, I’ve always had to earn my shots and my opportunities. I also believe in professional boxing you only get one chance so I always make sure I do my best to get it right the first time. But it’s not been easy. It’s been a long, long road but the journey’s not finished. I’m European champion now, I’ve still got a long way to go, still got a lot of learning to do and the future’s bright.”

He’s learned along the way from sparing the likes of Tony Bellew, George Groves and Billy Joe Saunders. He even locked horns with Chris Eubank Jnr in a sparring session. “The spar didn’t go in Eubank’s favour but for me sparring is about learning and developing. At the time Eubank was British champion, I was a four or five fight novice as a professional so I was going out there to get the experience and gain some knowledge. But he was very disrespectful to me and I kept it to my heart because after he said, ‘You’re not going to make it.’

Chris Eubank Jnr vs Lerrone Richards

“I judge people on how they treat me. Now Eubank is just not for me, I might not be for him but he is definitely not for me. Hopefully one day we do fight.

“It’s only a matter of time before Eubank will have to fight me. I just can’t wait.”