BOLTON’S rising boxing stars get back in the ring tomorrow night, and Jack Cullen and Jack Flatley cannot wait – because victory in their respective matches takes each fighter closer to a title shot.

The two have yet to meet in the ring since turning professional but they are both setting their sights firmly on winning titles in the next few months. The next step for both is a date down the road in Oldham tomorrow.

Farnworth’s rising star Flatley has 11 wins and a draw to his name, while Cullen has 12 wins and one defeat, suffered in mitigating circumstances in the final of the knockout Last Man Standing tournament in Dublin.

And though there may not come a time when they face off in the ring – Flatley plans to compete as a light-middleweight in the future – the two Jacks share a common goal, namely title belt gold.

Flatley faces Yorkshireman Harry Matthews in a six-round bout tomorrow night at Oldham Leisure Centre, hoping to notch his 12th pro win. The ‘Quiet Storm’ is still unbeaten, though his perfect record had its first blemish in his most recent outing, against the 7-0 Troy Williamson.

Though he did not get the decision, Flatley says the bruising encounter is one he has gained plenty from, if not the victory.

“My last fight against Troy Williamson was a nightmare,” he told The Bolton News. “I came out of that one battered and bruised but it did me a lot of good in some ways, I learned a lot and it should help me in the future.

“Harry Matthews will be a good fight, he’s been in the ring with everyone and he’s fought for the Central Area title. So I won’t overlook him, I’ll make sure I’m sharp. It’s only six rounds but I know I could go for 10 or 12.

“It doesn’t matter who I fight, or where, I won’t lose my motivation because I want to be fighting for titles soon.

“I’ve had a few title opportunities mentioned, they just haven’t come to anything yet, for whatever reason. I want the opportunities now, I’m itching for them. I’d fight for a title today if I could.

“Towards the end of this year or the start of next year I want to be looking at light-middleweight, that’s what I want to fight at and get titles at, I believe I can make light-middleweight and be strong in that division.”

Flatley has enhanced his chances with a recent stint sparring with some of the best training partners the continent has to offer. Though his digs in Germany were less than sulubrious the 23-year-old middleweight says it was a welcome addition to his training camp.

He added: “My preparation has been good, I’ve been in Stuttgart sparring every day against some very strong opponents, like Denis Radovan, who’s had 10 pro fights and won them all. He’s a future champion and a very good fighter so it’s been a good experience, it’s something different going over there, just to have a change in your training.

“I’ve been before, I went last year and they asked me if I’d go back again this year. I was in Hamburg last year, it was a nice place but the hotel wasn’t the best, it was more like a hostel, but it’s not a problem, it’s worth it to get the sparring sessions in.

“So I’m really looking forward to the fight – I’m feeling good and I’m raring to go, I can’t wait, I’m buzzing.”

Also fighting fit and ready for action is Cullen, already a familiar face to locals in Little Lever.

And though the24-year-old has yet to discover the identity of his next opponent at tomorrow’s VIP Promotions event in Oldham, he is confident in his ability to come out on top and put himself in line for a title shot on his next scheduled bout in December.

“I was supposed to be fighting Anthony Fox but that fell through, it doesn’t matter to me, it’s six rounds and I’m looking forward to getting back in the ring after a bit of time off recently,” he said.

“Tommy [Battel, trainer] said there were no shows coming up so all the lads should have a bit of a break. But I’m back working hard, I’m on an upward curve and I’ve got to keep climbing.

“I’m hoping to be fighting again on December 8 and all being well that will be for a title, but obviously I’ve got to get through this weekend’s fight first.

“I have to keep on my toes and keep winning because one loss and people can start to think ‘is he what we expected him to be’?”

The ‘Little Lever Meat Cleaver’ did not win the eight-man Dublin competition, going up against home fighter Roy Sheahan with precious little rest time after his semi-final win.

Sheahan took the title with a first-round stoppage but, reflecting on a profitable experience, Cullen feels he did himself justice and is ready to forge ahead to title glory.

“I was gutted about that time in Dublin but, looking back, there was no way they were going to let an English lad come home with the win,” he added. “I got to the final so I can’t ask much more than that. And even to enter it was a great experience.

“I’ve been doing a lot of sparring, three times a week, with good quality lads like Mark Ephron, Jake Haigh and Charlie Schofield, a heavier lad from Manchester.

“I’m well-prepared, I’ve trained well and I’m ready to go and get another win.”