The past motivates him. The future could be life changing. But Kieran Smith must focus only on the present.

The 29-year-old will take to the ring this evening inside London’s Copper Box arena aiming to become British middleweight champion as the main support act to Joe Joyce’s heavyweight joust with Zhilei Zhang. A partisan crowd and many more watching back home on BT Sport will tune in anticipating a comfortable defence for champion Denzel Bentley (17-2-1). Smith’s job, then, is to both confound expectations and set up a new and better life for himself.

The southpaw has experienced big nights under the lights before, having fought Vincenzo Bevilacqua on the undercard of the Lee McGregor-Kash Farooq tear-up at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena and tested Troy Williamson over six rounds across the city from tonight’s venue at York Hall.

Bentley, though, will be Smith’s most formidable opponent yet, the Londoner having gone the distance with Zhanibek Alimkhanuly in a WBO world title bout in Las Vegas just five months ago. This is Bentley’s bounce back fight and, amid the buzz and the hype of the build-up, there has already been talk of what might lie in wait for the Frank Warren-backed boxer after tonight, as if defeating Smith were a foregone conclusion.

The Scot (18-1) reckons that might be a mistake.

“I don’t really care what he and his camp are saying but if they’re not taking me seriously, then good,” said the Kynoch Boxing operator. “If they want to look past me before we’ve even got into the ring then they’ll regret that.

“This is a massive night for me. I’ve put in a lot of hard work, it’s been a great training camp and I’m so focused on what I need to do. Bentley’s a decent fighter and I respect him but he’s been beaten before and it can happen again. I know I can outbox him and that’s what I’ll be looking to do.”

Smith, known universally as Chopper, will be backed by a rowdy contingent who have travelled down from his home in Greenrigg in west Lothian, appreciative that family and friends have made the effort to support him on what could potentially be a career-defining night.

Many of those inside the arena will have been close witnesses to the work and effort that Smith has accumulated just to get to this point, the financial sacrifices made and the hours served in his day job as a personal trainer (PT) to fund his professional boxing career.

Getting his hands on the Lonsdale Belt this evening would make that all worthwhile and set his life on a more prosperous path. But Smith knows he can’t allow himself to dream too much just yet.

“Most people just watch a boxer on TV or in a venue and have no idea of the back story,” he adds. “So much hard work goes unseen just to get to this point, especially at this level where there’s hardly any money and you have to work another job just to keep going.

“I’ve been lucky enough to have attracted some additional sponsorship for this camp which meant I was able to stop doing the PTs for a while so I could focus on my own training and sparring and get in the best possible shape for the fight.

“It’s the biggest night of my career and I wanted to be properly ready for it. If I can beat him on a card like this, live on TV and with all the publicity going around it, then it would open loads of doors for me. There would be more opportunities on bigger cards against bigger opponents. It would be life-changing, no doubt.

“But there’s no point in me getting too carried away right now. First I have to beat him. I know I can but I need to show it in the ring.”

Boiling his 6ft2 frame down to super-welterweight was always tricky so being able to fight at middleweight has allowed Smith to focus on training without having to worry about cutting weight.

“This is a more natural division for me,” he adds. “I feel more comfortable here and still strong for the weight. Getting down to super-welter was often tough so middleweight is where I’d like to keep fighting. I want to send out a message tonight that I’m ready to be a fixture in this division. Becoming British champion would be a dream come true but I want that to only be the start.”