The last time Calvin Brock performed at the Cricket Arena in his hometown of Charlotte, N.C., he stopped journeyman Ken Murphy in three rounds.
It was his 18th victory in as many outings. Back in November 2003, Brock was an afterthought. Unlike his much-heralded Olympic teammates like Jermain Taylor and Jeff Lacy, Brock did not seem to have big things in the offing.
Fast forward to this weekend, when he faces the well-traveled veteran David Bostice at the same venue, and Brock (26-0, 21 KO) comes into the bout as a legitimate heavyweight contender.
"It's been very exciting, it makes me feel like the businessman that I am, having to talk with Donald Tremblay, the Main Events publicist, a lot, coordinating with people back at home on the promotion," Brock told Maxboxing.
"I'm looking forward to packing the arena, so this event didn't just come down to just training. I also had to take care of the business side of the boxing match, too. So it makes me out to be the businessman that I am."
When he last fought in Charlotte, Brock was basically an anonymous figure in the sport of boxing and for the most part, in his hometown. But this time around, he comes in with his name on the marquee.
According to Tremblay, Brock will have a busy week promoting the bout. On Sunday, he was expected to appear in a live segment on a local television affiliate. On Monday, he had an interview scheduled with the Charlotte Observer's business scribe. Today he was slated to do various radio spots. Wednesday will be an open workout for the media.
Then the final press conference will be conducted Thursday and the week's festivities will conclude with the weigh-in Friday afternoon.
Although this is just a "stay-busy" bout for Brock, it could be the biggest bout in this region in years.
"Yeah, absolutely," Tremblay said. "They had Tommy Hearns here in the late '90s but it wasn't a quality card; he was well past his prime at that point."
The local media seem to be interested in the fight.
"The media's very excited about the event and as far as [requests for press] credentials, they were coming in slow at first because people tend to be last minute when it comes to those things. But they've started pouring in the last couple of days," Tremblay said.
"So I'm expecting a pretty good turnout, which is not surprising since when we had the press conference to announce the show, the media turnout was excellent as well."
For Brock, who earned a business management degree from UNC Charlotte, focusing in on the promotion while keeping his training camp just an hour outside of Pittsburgh has not been distracting.
"No, it's been very enjoyable," he said.
"I always keep my laptop with me. If I'm not concentrating on boxing, I'm doing other things in my life that I'm concentrating on, along with boxing. I'm keeping my mind busy while I'm not boxing. I'm taking David Bostice very serious, and I'm very well prepared. I'm a better, sharper and more fundamentally sound boxer than when I fought Jameel McCline."
His victory over "Big Time" in April was a watershed moment for Brock. His come-off-the-canvas victory convinced many observers and pundits that Brock was a legitimate heavyweight contender, although when he was flattened by a left hook in the seventh frame of that bout, it looked like "The Boxing Banker" was knocked from his dollars and senses.
"I'm making sure I'm all right," he said of that moment at the Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
"When I first hit the canvas I was all right; my head wasn't spinning, I wasn't dazed. I have to say he caught me with a good punch and put me down for the first time in my career and now I'm going to get up, go out there and try to take him out. That was my attitude."
Which is precisely what Brock did. He actually would finish the round by hurting his foe with a series of hard punches that had the much-bigger McCline backing up into the ropes. He used that momentum to take a well-earned, hard-fought decision.
Coming into the bout, McCline and his people felt that Brock would be an easy mark, after he had knocked down Brock more than once as a sparring partner as they prepped for Chris Byrd last fall.
"I didn't get legitimately knocked down in the sparring sessions with Jameel McCline," the 30-year-old Brock said.
"I was boxing him southpaw, which means my balance is off and I was weak in that position. I was basically knocked off balance. I would be off balance and he would hit me or sometimes my foot would get stepped on. It was never where I was legitimately knocked down where I was hurt. I would jump right up and finish the sparring sessions. It wasn't even right for him to call it a knockdown."
Brock is rated in the top 10 of all four major sanctioning organizations (WBC No. 9, WBA No. 5, IBF No. 3 and WBO No. 7), but right now the heavyweight division has a cadre of belt-holders and no real recognized champion. Things got even murkier with Vitali Klitschko's retirement and abdication of the WBC title, which is now held by Hasim Rahman.
But perhaps Klitschko's stepping aside is actually good news for the division. After all, when the world's most recognized belt-holder [and that's all he was to anyone outside of HBO and "The Ring"] can't get to the starting block, it holds up the rest of the division.
"I heard the news," Brock said, "and I was glad that the belt was at least given to Hasim Rahman because it's not right for [Klitschko] to hold the title and be called a champion and not defend it."
But where does this place Brock in the heavyweight hierarchy?
"It depends," says Carl Moretti, V.P. and matchmaker of Main Events.
"The big thing is, where does it leave the rest of the heavyweights and what fights are going to be bought and everything like that? I'd like to think that whether it's HBO or Showtime, whatever fight they buy involving heavyweights, that they're meaningful heavyweight fights and sometimes that's not always the case just because a guy has the titles.
"We had a chance of getting Klitschko with Brock in September. It fell through. I don't know, but I think time will dictate where it leads him."
After his big victory over McCline in April, Brock would get some work in on the untelevised portion of the Mayweather-Gatti undercard by halting Kenny Craven in four rounds.
So after taking on Bostice (35-9-1, 15 KO), what next?
"Clearly, we want to get back on a major cable network against a highly ranked opponent or a bigger name," Moretti said. "We worked on that today, we're looking for the first quarter of '06."
There is talk that Brock could take on David Tua on Jan. 28, underneath Gatti's return on HBO versus Thomas Damgaard.
But Moretti says, "I don't know if we'll be able to have a triple-header because of the delay of [Erik] Morales-[Manny]Pacquiao. So that's still up in the air a little bit. And I don't know if Tua really wants to fight Calvin Brock. But it's not like he was given an offer and turned it down, either, because we're not at that point, yet."
Brock is still a bit unproven, and while he's certainly a contender, he still has work to do to solidify a title shot.
But he knows where he thinks he stands in the division: "In my own mind, I'm the heavyweight champion of the world. I just have to win a title and manifest it to the public."