Hawke's Bay's Beau O'Brien has vacated his New Zealand Professional Boxing Association middleweight title, to focus on the super welterweight division.
"It's a bit more of a natural weight for me and I want to fight some of the big names in that division. It's a whole different pool of guys," O'Brien said after the move was announced this week.
A lawn mowing contractor when he isn't fighting, O'Brien, 27, said he has had no trouble dropping 3kg to meet the 69.8kg limit for his new division and hopes to have a fight next month.
"I trained right through the Christmas and New Year holidays. It was my first sober Christmas for a few years."
The Napier Boxing Club product boasts a professional record of seven wins, one draw and a loss. His only loss was against Kuok Kun Ng in China in 2014.
"I'm not sure if he has retired or not but I'm keen to fight him again if he is still fighting. I want to fight the top guys rather than bunnies and I'm training hard and keeping fit in case any opportunities arise," O'Brien said.
He ruled out a rematch with Tauranga's Gunnar Jackson, who he beat by a unanimous points decision in their fight for the vacant Universal Boxing Federation's Asia Pacific and NZPBA's middleweight titles last October. These were the fourth and fifth professional titles of his career.
"I'm aiming for a different division now but I'm going up to Tauranga to help Gunnar prepare for his fight against Andrei," O'Brien said referring to Auckland middleweight Andrei Mikhailovich, another boxer O'Brien wasn't interested in taking on.
O'Brien returned to the boxing scene last year after a four-year spell. He believed he had some unfinished business in his career. He made his rusty return against tough amateur Shiva Mishra of Wellington in March. Despite the difficult challenge he won the bout on split decision.
In June O'Brien took on an undefeated boxer in Fiji, Siliveni Nawai, for the WBF Australasian title. This was his first fight overseas since his loss in China and after a slow start he recorded a fifth round TKO victory.
O'Brien has previously held the NZPBA and Global Boxing Federation's Oceania super welterweight titles.
In May O'Brien and wife Lisa are scheduled to welcome their third child into the world.
Potential opponents could be lining up to fight him around the end of May hoping he could be short on sleep.