Greg Bridet moved a step closer to fulfilling his Olympic dream after making his England bow.
The Heart of Portsmouth (HOP) ace went down to a close points defeat to Sweden’s Gabriel Richards in Basingstoke.
But the heavyweight could take pride in his performance on his step up to international level against a vastly-experienced opponent.
The call-up is another boost for the 22-year-old who was named sportsman of the year at the 2012 News Sports Awards earlier this month.
On top of that, Bridet has been elevated to the Great Britain boxing development squad as the sport’s bosses run the rule over potential Olympians.
Bridet was satisfied with his display against Richards at 91kg and delighted to get the nod from the selectors.
With the road to the ABA finals – which the heavy-hitting talent reached last year – starting next week, Bridet was pleased to be part of another memorable occasion.
He said: ‘It was really good and very beneficial in terms of picking up experience.
‘With the national ABAs coming up, it was the perfect bout in terms of preparation for that.
‘Stepping up to international level means the calibre of opponent is a lot better.
‘He was a good boxer, so, regardless of winning or losing, the fact I wasn’t snowed under gives me a lot of confidence.
‘It’s good to hear it was a good performance, but it’s also salt in the wounds to not get the decision when people thought I won.
‘As long as I’m learning from it that’s the important thing, though, and there are things to work on.’
Bridet is now expected to ink his GB contract on April 4, which will pave the way for him to undertake fortnightly visits to the GB camp at the English Institute of Sport (EIS) in Sheffield.
That will allow the big-hitter to focus on his training, as well as open him up to the top-drawer facilities and coaching at the EIS.
Bridet is looking at all of that with a view to being elevated to GB’s elite podium squad and training full-time.
That will then open the door to selection for the next Olympics in Rio in 2016.
Bridet said: ‘It’s great to be on the development squad.
‘The facilities are second to none.
‘It’s the best coaches and best physios.
‘The actual facilities are unreal.
‘I got cut sparring when I was there and in five minutes I was stitched up and back into strength and conditioning training.
‘That shows how on the ball it all is. It opens your eyes to a new level.
‘Last year I got to the ABA finals and thought “I’m there”.
‘But then I get my eyes opened to an entirely new level and almost new way of training and idea of what is required to be at the top of your game.
‘When I prove myself in training and they are impressed enough, I will be able to go into international competition under GB.
‘To go full-time is 100 per cent the aim.
‘Then from there it’s about impressing enough to go to Rio in 2016.
‘A good performance in the ABAs is what I aiming for now to solidify my place with GB.’
HOP coach Q Shillingford believes Bridet is now reaping the benefits of the hard work and dedication he has put in since joining his club.
But Shillingford knows that has to be maintained if the talent is to keep progressing.
He said: ‘Greg has picked up his first international performance and boxed extremely well against an experienced opponent.
‘It was a very close contest and the president of the ABA was complimentary about how he performed for his first bout at that level.
‘Greg gave it everything and it’s good for him to know what is required at this level.
‘The step from national to international level is a big one.’