WITHAM professional boxer Tom Ansell is ready to step up his bid for title honours again as he prepares for his first showdown of a potentially huge 2019.

The 26-year-old super lightweight will be returning to the iconic York Hall venue in Bethnal Green on March 2 when he will be facing Rhys Saunders in his sixth bout in the professional ranks.

While his opponent has a record of three wins 15 losses and a draw, Ansell will be stepping into the ring with a record of five straight wins from his opening five fights and he is looking to build on the success he saw in beating Lee Hallett in his last outing in October.

That fight was Ansell's first over six rounds and while it has been a bit of a wait for the Witham man before being able to get back in the ring, he said he was in excellent shape and ready to return to action as he stepped up again towards the title bout that he wants to get.

He said: "I've been training really hard and been sparring very hard in preparation for this.

"I have been facing some different people in sparring and that's been a great help as I've been up against a few amateurs, who are really well drilled and always have such high skill levels.

"I need that because I'm expecting to face a very skilled fighter and I'll have to bring my A game against him.

"It is another step up for me and without doubt this will be my hardest fight yet, but a good result would put me on the border of being in contention for a title shot.

"It's another six-rounder and I'll then look to have an eight-round fight and hopefully a title eliminator before the end of the year.

"The more rounds you box, the higher up the rankings you move and I leaped up into the top 25 in the UK after my last fight.

"I've dropped down a bit since but I should shoot up again after this one."

Ansell said increasing the number of rounds he was boxing had meant a step up in his physical conditioning, so he had been pleased to be working with physio Mark Benterman in preparation for the fight against Saunders.

He added: "Mark is brilliant and he has taken on a very hands-on approach with how he deals with things.

"I have a great team behind me and Mark is very professional, so having someone like that around is great."

Ansell has also been boosted by a number of new sponsors including the involvement of Little Braxted-based company Elite Vans Ltd.

He thanked Elite Vans Ltd and Benterman as well as his other sponsors B-fuelled, Food One Consultancy, Macron Hertfordshire, BD Electrical Contractors, The Wheatsheaf Hatfield Peverel, Hermit at Red Coats pub, Red Lift Hire, Nick Ansell PT and Top Guard UK.

The return to York Hall is another reason for Ansell and his team to be excited.

He has already had three professional victories there and, having fought at Tottenham Green Pools & Fitness in October, is pleased to be heading back to Bethnal Green.

"I love it there," he said.

"When you come out, everyone is on top of you and it's like a mini Colosseum.

"You feel the atmosphere even in the changing room and it's just brilliant. "Everyone loves it there and I'm expecting another big following there. "I've now got people who I don't even know buying tickets and it's great to get recognition from Witham and all around Essex."