Mark Schleibs will meet world-ranked Sam Goodman on March 13 in Wollongong (Image supplied by No Limit Boxing, design by Maddie Irwin)

In the lead up to his March 13 bout with top Super Bantamweight, Sam Goodman (17-0, 7 KOs), motivation has been pretty easy to come by for Mark Schleibs (13-2, 9 KOs).

Not only will the Melburnian have the chance to shock the boxing world and upset the IBF and WBO number one contender, but will head to his opponent’s home town of Wollongong to attempt to do so.

Couple this with the fact that the fight will headline No Limit Boxing’s first pay-per-view of 2024, and Schleibs has the perfect set of circumstances spurring him on.

Still, there has been another factor that is fueling his ambition.

Having spent the first four years of his life in Tacloban City on Leyte Island in the Philippines, the 30 year old takes great pride in the Pinoy roots he inherited from his single mother’s side.

It should come as no surprise then, that meeting legendary Filipino world champion Nonito Donaire (42-8, 28 KOs) has been a major source of inspiration.

With Donaire in Australia to assist Michael Zerafa (31-4, 19 KOs) with preparations for his upcoming WBA Middleweight world title fight, the opportunity to meet a man he considers an idol is one Schleibs simply could not pass up.

Now, the fire in the belly has begun burning brighter.

“It was just a great experience,” Schleibs told The Inner Sanctum.

“(He is) someone that I used to watch as a kid, I based my style a lot off of Nonito Donaire as well. It was just a dream come true to be in the presence of someone that big and the multiple world champion that he is.

“Going into my fight against Sam Goodman, it just gave me that extra pep in my step to get ready even harder.

“It was surreal, man.”

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With fight night only a matter of days away, Schleibs’ fixation on shaking the underdog tag has intensified.

As if the challenge of battling one of the best Super Bantamweights in the world isn’t hard enough, fighting above his natural Bantamweight class, while having done this multiple times in the past, makes the test even more difficult.

None of this is to suggest that the former Australian champion doesn’t believe he belongs in the ring with the best.

Feeling as though he has been dismissed, labelled a “walkthrough” by both Goodman and the wider public, Schleibs believes he is ready to claim his share of the spotlight.

“It’s a big fight and this is the ultimate test for me. I’ve got the perfect opponent for me to showcase all of my talent and skills,” he said.

“He’s going to come to the party and I just need to make sure I’m the best version of myself. The best version of myself will beat anyone in the world.

“A lot of people think it’s going to be a mismatch. A lot of people think he’s just going to walk through me. My job is to prove them wrong.

“I know I am the b-sider, but people are going to think I’m the number one in the world when we fight.”

Despite the harsh war of words between between the foes seemingly intensifying as the hours pass by, the ‘Magic Man’ hasn’t lost sight of the end goal. He is well aware that he has a job to do.

More importantly, he knows that he cannot let emotions take over when he steps between the ropes.

When the opening bell tolls and the pair shape up, Schleibs knows that words count for nothing, and he knows the exact manner in which he wants to walk the walk.

“I know the first six rounds are anyone’s fight, that’s the most important rounds for me. In the last four rounds, if I have to dig deep and bite on my gum shield, I will,” he concluded.

“I’ll take it one round at a time. I’m not a fool, I’ve been in this boxing game a long time. I’ve competed at a high level as an amateur.

“I’m just going to go in there and try to out think him in certain spots and outpunch him. I definitely will hurt him and when I do, it’s what I’m going to do after. 

“If I can keep that pressure on him and get him out of there, I will. I’m (also) just happy to get my points here, get my points there and break him down slowly.

“On their day, you don’t underestimate anyone and he doesn’t respect me. I’m sure he’s going to come in and try and show off in front of the fans, but he’ll get a pleasant surprise when I chin him.”

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