Remembered for his strong record as an amateur, Juan Carlos Payano, a two-time Olympian from the Dominican Republic, is aiming high in professional boxing.
With only four years of paid experience in the sport, Payano will compete for his first world title Friday when he meets Panamanian bantamweight titlist Anselmo "Chemito" Moreno (35-2-1, 12 KOs) at the Mesquite Arena in Mesquite, Texas.
Payano (15-0, 8 KOs), who owns a pair of silver medals from the Pan American Games, is aware that this is a golden opportunity for him on a card put together by Mike Tyson's Iron Mike Productions.
"I'm in the final stages, and I'm basically ready for the fight and waiting for that time and the moment we go head to head," Payano said. "After training with my trainer Germán Caicedo in Miami, as always, and having prepared in the best way possible, I'm ready.
"I realize that Moreno is a tough fighter, but it makes me very proud to be fighting a great champion like him. It has always been my aim to fight against the best and become one of them myself. My goal is to reach the top, and if I'm to achieve that, then [Friday] is the big challenge."
Payano, 30, assured that a victory will open the doors to the big leagues for him and his team, something that he has always dreamed of.
"I want to be among the best," Payano said. "Moreno is in my sights right now, and I'm confident of winning on the night, although I'm expecting a tough fight. Thanks to that, I'm 110 percent ready to get in there and fight."
Known as a versatile boxer who is able to unleash the dynamite in his knuckles, Payano said that, along with the chance to compete for a world title, he is eager to be a titlist under the flag of Iron Mike Productions.
"I'm certainly delighted to be working with someone like Mike Tyson," Payano said. "I've always really looked up to him, and now he's my promoter. To have him in my corner gives me a great pride and great motivation. It makes me really happy. I enjoy being part of the firm, and I don't want to let him down."
Payano rejected the claim that fighting in the United States would have an effect on him, as he has always been used to fighting away from home.
"It's not important whether I fight at home or not," Payano said. "I'm a fighter, and I fight wherever I have to. I'm not really one for favoritism. I'm here to fight, whether it's in Panama or wherever. We're on neutral ground; he's outside Panama, and he has always fought there. The main thing in my favor is my excellent training."