JOHN SIMPSON says his British and Common-wealth featherweight title fight with Lee Selby tonight is a "do-or-die" affair.
The 28-year-old will attempt to win the nine-stone Lonsdale Belt for the third time at the York Hall and, at the same time, relaunch his ambitions above and beyond mere domestic domination.
Selby is currently the mandatory challenger for the European title and, with Simpson once as high as No.3 in the IBF ratings, the Greenock man is determined to claim a victory that could finally allow his career to go into orbit.
The Scot has no qualms in admitting frustration has further stoked the fires of his ambition ahead of a fight he must win.
Simpson said: "There is no point beating about the bush. This is a do-or-die fight for me. I don't know how long I can keep hitting the brick wall at this level. If I want to set my sights above British title level, then I have to win tonight.
"Lee Selby is the mandatory challenger for the European title and I would like to think if I can beat him I will assume that status.
"Unfortunately, I have done so before when I have won the British title, but not been given that opportunity, so there is no guarantee.
"A year ago I was as high as No.3 in the IBF ratings and maybe one fight away from a world title shot and then I lost on a controversial points decision to Stephen Smith and it all came to nothing. So I must win tonight – there is no room for failure."
And Simpson's frustrations are well-founded. Consistently throughout his career the gritty Greenock fighter has travelled South of the border to challenge for titles and been the victim of debatable outcomes.
Going back seven years to Simmy's first challenge for the Lonsdale Belt, he was the victim of a woeful hometown decision in Hereford when Dazzo Williams was handed the verdict. The two points losses to Smith, by majority and split decision, were equally as controversial.
Yet, buoyed by the quality of his sparring with WBO Interim lightweight title holder Ricky Burns at trainer Billy Nelson's famous Fighting Scots gym, Simpson believes he can triumph over an opponent who is a relative rookie at British title level compared with himself.
The former British and Commonwealth champion said: "This will be my ninth British title fight and I believe that experience could prove crucial if this goes all the way.
"I know how hard I push Ricky Burns in sparring every day and I know how much he improved when he got the opportunity to fight for, and win a world title."
lBurns will return to Glasgow next year to defend his WBO interim lightweight title at the Braehead Arena on March 10, with the opponent to be confirmed.