By Brock Ellis
AFTER months of waiting for a potential title-tilt against WBO super-featherweight champion Ricky Burns, highly-touted and unbeaten Australian prospect "Wild" Will Tomlinson will finally get his chance to become a world champion.
However, when Tomlinson steps into the ring on November 11th to challenge for a version of the super-featherweight world title - the fighter in the opposing corner will not be Ricky Burns.
Tomlinson, 25, has signed to fight dangerous Argentine mauler Vicente Martin Rodriguez (34-2-1, 19 KOs) for the vacant IBO super-featherweight title.
The news came after it was understood that Burns' promoter Frank Warren had come to a verbal agreement with Golden Boy Promotions to take his charge abroad the US to defend his title against blue-chip prospect Adrien Broner.
With likely-hood of Burns being booked for the rest of the year, Tomlinson (17-0-1, 12 KOs), who has been rated inside the top-15 by the WBO for over a year to no avail - was given little option but to take the opportunity that was presented to him with the vacant belt.
Although the IBO is not considered as one of the major-four sanctioning bodies, Tomlinson still believes a win over Rodriguez will set him up for bigger fights in the future.
"At the end of day whether it be IBO, IBF, WBO, WBC or any of the other world title bodies - I think it is what you make of the title that really counts," an animated Tomlinson explained.
"There are lots of fighters out there with titles who choose to make defences against the easier challengers and that is regardless of which belt they hold. So as long as they are fighting and defending their titles against credible opponents, that is all that matters."
Despite his age, Rodriguez, 26, is an experienced campaigner who has amassed almost 40-fights in only six years as a professional. Along the way he has picked up the WBO Latino super-featherweight title as well as the interim version of the Argentine national strap.
Australian fight-fans will be vaguely familiar with Rodriguez as one of the only two losses on his professional record came in his first and only visit to Australia. This was back in 2008 when he was handily beaten on points by then leading Australian prospect "Cool" Willie Kickett with two regional titles up for grabs - on his next visit the stakes will be much higher.
Although his only fight in Australia was far from a memorable experience, Tomlinson still expects an improved and confident Rodriguez to provide him with a tough and gruelling fight.
"Rodriguez is experienced and he is tough. From what I have seen of him, he can take a punch. He's a hungry fighter, he likes to stand and trade punches so when he and I fight - it should be very entertaining."
Tomlinson is no stranger to high-profile fights, having won arguably the two biggest fights of his career on Pay-Per-View television in supporting bouts to former IBO cruiserweight champion Danny Green with a devastating knockout of Square Ring Promotions prospect Verquan Kimbrough and the previously unbeaten Chilean Oscar Bravo.
If the big-punching Australian is able to put together another impressive performance against Rodriguez, a fight against the Burns-Broner winner is definitely an option that Tomlinson would be willing to pursue.
"Including Australian fighters, some of the best fighter's in the world at some stage of their careers have held the IBO world-title. Like them, I plan on winning it and then use it to help develop myself into a championship fighter." Tomlinson said.
As a neutral spectator, Tomlinson stated he is going to be a very interested observer when Burns does defend his crown against Broner - as both could serve as potential opponents in the future.
"Burns is definitely a capable fighter. He's long, awkward has a solid work-rate. I think he hasn't done himself justice in his past three defences and in my opinion none of his opponents were even worthy of a world title fight. Having said that, it will be interesting to see how he does against a slick counter-puncher like Broner,"
"I could possibly use it as a tool to maybe coax another champion like the Burns-Broner winner into a unification fight. I think on my day I am more than capable of beating both fighters and I would love nothing more to go into their backyard, give them a good old Aussie beating and take their belt home with me."
But before Tomlinson can begin to seriously discuss any-kind of unification fights, he must take care of the business at lay at his hands when he takes on Rodriguez.
"First things first, Rodriguez is my main priority and my first obstacle. I must get through him to keep the dream alive and I will do everything possible in my preparation to ensure that everything goes according to plan - everything."
Follow Brock Ellis on Twitter @brockellis01.