For Elliott Matthews, tonight's English Middleweight title shot represents the realisation of a long-held ambition which he has poured every ounce of himself into.

The Watford southpaw faces undefeated Grant Dennis at York Hall for the vacant belt in what promises to be the biggest fight of his career.

In many ways, this is a shot which Matthews, who boasts an unbeaten record of 19-0-1, should have been given long before the age of 36.

Regardless, Matthews is eager to ensure the chance to win his first title since being crowned Southern Area champion in 2014 doesn’t go begging.

“It would mean more than anything to win the title because boxing has been my everything. I feel I well and truly deserve this title because I have put my whole life into this night,” Matthews said.

“I believe that I will get other amazing opportunities to go on from this fight. If I keep working hard, I will be able to step up and get more title shots.

“I am delighted to get the chance to fight for the title.”

While Matthews concedes Dennis, who is 10-0, represents the sternest challenge of his career to date, he is confident he is prepared for all the 34-year-old can throw at him.

A number of cancellations mean rather than the usual pre-fight training camp, Matthews has been in the gym for a prolonged spell and comes into the bout in peak condition.

“It is my hardest fight so far on paper, but I am quite confident I will be able to deal with what he has to offer,” he said.

“It is a big event for me and I am focusing on myself and not worrying about what he can do. it is all about winning and having a great night.

“He has nothing on me really and the only way I won’t win is if if I don’t perform the way I know I can, which I will, and I will win.

“The camp has been a long one and it feels like I have been in four camps one after the other without fighting, so I have been building up to the fight.

“The fight had landed at a good time for me and I can go into it relaxed knowing I have done the groundwork and conditioning already.”

An absence from the ring is a test for any fighter and Matthews knows more than most the difficulties which come with fights being called off.

He has seen a raft of opponents pull out late in the day and as a result hasn’t entered the ring in a competitive capacity since early March.

Dennis, meanwhile, is likely to be the sharper of two having last fought in October - a points win over Daryl Sharp - and faced four opponents this year.

While a lack of rounds is an issue for Matthews, who took the chance to thank his sponsors for their continued support, says the wait has made him hungrier.

“I am looking forward to fighting again. I have been waiting for this and I feel like I’m so well prepared that the belt is already mine and I have tasted the glory of being champion,” he said.

“It is good to finally be back in the ring. It couldn’t have come at a better time, just before Christmas.

“Hopefully I will be able to celebrate with a title after the fight and have a nice couple of weeks of rest and relaxation over the Christmas period.”