CRAIG Evans knows victory over Stephen Ormond tonight could take him a step closer to fighting for world honours – but it’s very much a case of “one step at a time” for the European champion.

Blackwood’s Evans makes the first defence of his WBO lightweight crown after claiming it back earlier this year with a defeat of Boy Jones on points.

Evans had previously reigned as champion from November 2016 to February 2018, managing just one successful defence in that period, coincidentally against Irishman Ormond.

The two meet for a second time at the Vale Sports Arena, nearly two years since Evans outpointed Ormond in Belfast thanks to a couple of late knockdowns.

Gavin Rees-trained Evans, then coached by Tony Borg, has often been unlucky when it comes to landing the plum contests.

But an impressive performance against his 36-year-old challenger would do wonders for his chances of some bigger paydays.

First and foremost, it’s Ormond (27-5), who held the title for 17 months from September 2013 up to his dethroning by Terry Flanagan.

“It’s nice to be fighting at home,” said 29-year-old Evans (19-2-2). “I’m looking forward to the fight and I obviously know Ormond well.

“He’s a tough fighter who comes to win, so we’ll see what happens on fight night.

“I fought him in his hometown last time, but there’s only two of us in the ring, so let’s get it on.

“We’ve both been training hard, so may the best man win. If I turn up and give 100 per cent, I know the title will be staying in Wales.

“Hopefully a win here pushes me towards world level, but let’s just take it one step at a time.”

Ormond, too, says he isn’t looking beyond tonight, adding: “I feel good and I’m enjoying boxing again.

“Craig Evans beat me the last time we met and this is a great opportunity now I’ve got the rematch, so I’m looking forward to it.

“I got beat fair and square in the first fight, but I’ve been training hard and I respect Craig.

“I’m not looking past this fight and I’m fully focused on getting the job done.”

Evans-Ormond is one of three title fights on the MTK Global show in the Welsh capital, and promoter Lee Eaton can’t wait for the action to get under way.

He said: “We’re happy to be back in Cardiff. We said we wanted to make a dent in the Welsh boxing market and improve things, and we’re back now with ESPN+ which is massive.

“We’ve got a European title fight for Jay Harris, a WBO European title fight between Craig Evans and Stephen Ormond and a Welsh title fight between Kieran Gething and Craig Woodruff, so it’s good to be back here and I’m excited.

“We’ve got screens all around the venue to watch the Champions League final between Liverpool and Tottenham too, so it’s two sports for the price of one.”

Cwmbran-born trainer and manager of Harris, Gary Lockett, added: “For years we’ve been left as an afterthought in Wales and the guys here have always been the nearly men.

“With the introduction of MTK Global coming in, it’s a thing of the past.

“If any Welsh fighter is there or thereabouts, they now get an opportunity to fight for these important titles. It’s an unbelievable prospect for me as a trainer and manager, and MTK Global are making a big move into Wales.”