Hendersonville native Austin Dulay (13-1) will take center stage Saturday, Feb. 15 at Bridgestone Arena, when he fights Diego Magdaleno (31-3) in front of his hometown crowd.
Dulay, who fights as a 135-pound Lightweight, will return to his home city for just the third time in his professional boxing career.
His other two Nashville fights ended with a knockout and a unanimous decision in his favor.
"When I think about fighting back in Nashville, I can't help but smile," Dulay told the Hendersonville Standard. "It means the world to me to be from here and represent this city on such a big stage. When I fight for Nashville or put 615 on everything, it is because this place has a special meaning to me. It's an honor to fight for the 615."
Dulay hopes that when his 10-round battle with Magdaleno is over, the celebrations will exceed his expectations.
"That's all I imagine right now," he said. "That is how I envision the fight going. I think about jumping on those ropes and celebrating with everyone. I have to make it happen for my hometown. All I can think about is getting the job done."
The last time Dulay fought was in July 2019 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he battled Justin Pauldo to a no-decision as part of the Manny Pacquiao and Keith Thurman Super World Welter Title Fight. Fighting in a historic venue like the MGM Grand is something that will always stay with Dulay, but he says nothing will compare to walking out to the center stage in Bridgestone Arena.
"It was sweet boxing at the MGM Grand just because of all the history there, but fighting in Bridgestone will be something else," he added. "We've always talked about fighting here, and I just have a feeling it will be the best."
With 210 days passing since his last fight, Dulay and his camp have given themselves little time to breathe between bouts.
"We never really leave camp," Dulay said. "We stay training every day. We may take a week off at most, but we are right back at it. Nutrition never stops."
Dulay has been in what he calls his 'true camp' for the last three months, working on his technique, his game plan and staying true to his diet.
"The hardest part is the last few weeks," he said. "I've got to give a shoutout to Taylor Minchey at the Indian Lake Medical Weight Loss and Wellness Center because they have been a huge help to me. Everything has run so much smoother since we got with a nutritionist there."
Not only does Dulay have the support of a certified nutritionist, but he also has the aid of having his father, Fred Dulay, in his corner at all times.
Fred is his official trainer, allowing Austin to relax, knowing that he is being cared for in a way that no other trainer can match.
"No one in the world will care for me as a father or coach like him," he said. "No one will put that much time and effort into camp, our mental focus, or our goals like him. There is no better feeling than having him as my trainer and in my corner."
The older Dulay hasn't always been a professional boxing trainer. Instead, he learned the craft as the years have passed to make sure that Austin got the best training possible.
"Seeing him put in all that time was really awesome," Austin said. "He puts in as much time, if not more, than me in learning the craft. He is constantly trying to learn and improve to help us. He has been truly great to have by my side."
The pinnacle for any boxer is being a world champion. Dulay is still a ways off from getting his shot at the world title, but he can take a step forward with a victory on Saturday night.
"Being world champ is the ultimate goal," he said. "At the end of the day, that is where we want to be, but we also want to stay world champs. That said, all my focus is on this fight. You can never overlook anyone in this sport. One punch can turn your world upside down. You have to clear the path before you can look down the road."
Down the road could come sooner rather than later, however.
If Dulay wins Saturday night, expect him to get his title shot by the end of the year or 2021.
Without giving away his game plan, Dulay outlined what he would need to do on Saturday to give himself the best chance at winning and advancing in the ranks.
"Just need to take my time and not rush into anything," he said. "I will need to make sure I stay clear-minded and keep to my game plan no matter what. It's about persistence."
On the day of his fight, Austin will keep a low-profile. He will sleep in, have an excellent breakfast, keep off of his feet and stay hydrated. He will head down to Bridgestone at 5 p.m. before wrapping his hands around 6 p.m. Dulay will walk out to center stage and fight at 7 p.m.
"My big break hasn't happened yet," Dulay said. "We are consistently learning and growing. People haven't seen my turning point, but when it is time - I will be ready."
All of Saturday’s fights will be shown on FOX beginning with Dulay’s bout at 7 p.m.