Paul Stevenson has been the head trainer at the Everton Red Triangle gym for years and has overseen a conveyor belt of quality fighters and respected champions. Finally, one of his fighters has brought a world title belt back to the famous old Liverpool gym.

New WBA featherweight champion, Nick Ball, genuinely is one of Stevenson’s fighters. The two have been together since the very start of Ball’s career and have steadily worked their way up from boxing in nightclubs and leisure centres to taking on the very best fighters in the world on the grandest of stages.

Last Saturday’s title wining victory over Raymond Ford was made all the sweeter after the pair almost reached the top of the mountain back in March. Ball appeared to outfight and bully Rey Vargas during their WBC title fight and for a few fleeting moments after the final bell, Stevenson thought he had his first world champion. The split draw verdict rendered by the judges quickly snuffed out his and Ball’s joy.

As is their way, the business-like pair stopped publicly complaining about the decision as soon as their flight landed back in Britain and quietly got on with the task of preparing for Ford.

Although he proved himself to be world level against the awkward Vargas, Ball produced an even better display against the slick but tough Ford and was rewarded with a split decision victory and the WBA featherweight title.

Stevenson and the team had to endure another tense wait while the judges scorecards were tallied up but he wasn’t worried about another controversy. The sense of relief he felt when Ball’s arm was raised was a reaction to years of hard work being rewarded.

“It’s a long road for any trainer or team to get their first world champion, especially when we got denied it the first time,” he told BoxingScene.

“I didn’t think the scoring was as close as they said on television. The commentary on DAZN had it very, very close. At ringside, I was pretty confident that we’d done more than enough to be honest. You obviously still want to hear it confirmed and I probably felt a bit of everything. A bit of relief, yeah, but also pride in the boxer that he’s finally got what he deserves and it was just a brilliant, special moment that I’ll probably remember my whole life.”

Ball and Stevenson aren’t the type to tread water. Having come this far, they are determined to press on. A rematch with WBC champion, Vargas, would appeal for a number of reasons. Unifying the division would not only cement Ball’s position as the top man at 126lbs but it would also give the 27-year-old another opportunity to accomplish a long held dream and win the famous green and gold WBC belt.

Given a referee who would allow him to work properly inside, he and Stevenson would also take great satisfaction in doing the job properly and beating Vargas conclusively second time around.

Looking further ahead, Stevenson has begun to form another plan. He believes that Ball’s current run of form makes him the natural opponent for one of the most dangerous fighters in the sport.

“The fight I’d really like for Nick is the Naoya Inoue one," Stevenson said.

“It’s the biggest fight out there in terms of where we want to be with Nick.

“Look what he’s done in the last 12 weeks and even in the Isaac Dogboe fight. He’s really risen to the top of the featherweight tree. He’s fought two world champions – the best two champions as well – within 12 weeks of each other and he’s spanked them both really. You haven’t seen stuff like that since the Henry Armstrong days. What sort of fighter is doing that these days? He’s going in with the top guys in his weight class and giving it to the champions. Especially in British boxing, nobody in Britain is doing that.

“Nick took on the man universally recognised as the best of the [featherweight] champions in Vargas. Before that it was Dogboe, a former world champion and world ranked number two. Now this fella. The new man. I know the bookies had him as the underdog but he’s done a brilliant job. I think he’s one of the rising stars of the game I think.”

Inoue’s incredible run through the weight divisions looks like it will have at least one more stop. If – and when – the undisputed super bantamweight champion does eventually step up to featherweight, it is looking increasingly likely that Ball will be the man waiting to welcome him to 126lbs.

Although the all-action Ball and surgical Inoue go about their business differently once they climb inside the ring, Stevenson believes that they are kindred spirits in the way they seek out the toughest available challenges and then attack them head on. He doesn’t believe either would tailor their approach if they were matched with each other.

“What a fight that would be. Style-wise, it’d just be an explosion,” he said.

“Nick’s got a great chance of being the one to unsettle Inoue I think. We believe in him. It’d be brilliant for the future.

“Inoue’s the best thing in boxing at the moment, him and Nick. Obviously, we want to get to where he is but they have similar approaches. He’s no nonsense. He’s just gets in there, takes on the best and sees them off. It’d be some meeting of minds between him and Nick. It’d be brilliant.”