HAD someone predicted how the next 10 years would have played out for Steven Robinson back in 2014, he'd have laughed in disbelief.

For a decade ago, the Geordie man mountain had never even pulled on a pair of boxing gloves.

Now, despite his pro career only being eight fights old, the 33-year-old has very much established himself on Sky Sports, is a regular sparring partner of world heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk and is preparing for what promises to be a thrilling scrap with Alen 'The Savage' Babic on the undercard of the showdown between heavyweight rivals Fabio Wardley and Frazer Clarke on March 31.

Not bad considering he only initially stepped between the ropes to try and lose some weight after being forced to quit football due to injury.

Football took Robinson - a goalkeeper - to Chicago and then Hong Kong but injury brought him back home to Blaydon and at that stage he admits he was lost.

"Boxing wasn't a sport I'd ever thought about," he says.

"Up until 2014 I'd never picked up a pair of boxing gloves. I got into fights in school, I got into fights with local kids, I was rough, to say the least, but I'd never boxed.

"I'm a big believer that everything happens for a reason and we all have a path in life. Why did boxing come along into my life? It happened at the right time. I was depressed, I didn't really think I had much hope. I'd found out I wasn't going to be a footballer, I had no GCSEs and no aspirations, who knows where I'd have ended up.

"I think I'd have probably found myself going down the wrong path. I was raw when I started and I'm still learning now. You have kids who have been doing this all their lives. I'm still learning. I'm 33 and every day is a learning day. I've already surpassed what I imagined I could do in the sport."

Robinson is a towering 6ft7, which must have made him quite the presence stood between the posts as a keeper, and means he's a right handful in the ring. His fights tend to be worth watching. His first two were over within a round, he enjoyed an eye-catching win over previously unbeaten Scot Nick Campbell and although he's lost a couple - including a narrow decision to Frankin Ignatius last time out, Robinson fears and avoids nobody - hence his willingness to jump in with Babic, the popular Croatian who is looking to bounce back from the first defeat of his career.

"I'm not one of these boxers who wants to be mollycoddled," says Robinson, who is coached by Mark Clauzel and managed by Glenn Bartlett, the owner and managing direction of Middlesbrough-based Close Protection Security.

"It is an exciting time. I won't shy away from any fight. We're all men, we all have two arms, we all have chins and we're all capable of knocking someone out.

"I'll always take a fight. We'll do what we need to do and just keep pushing on. I never look at a loss as a loss, I look at it as a lesson."

There aren't many greater lessons in boxing than being up close and personal with pound for pound great Usyk, and Robinson was called in as a sparring partner for the Ukrainian as he prepared for his unification fight with Tyson Fury before it was postponed. It's the second time he's joined Usyk's camp and he also got a call to go in ahead of one of the two meetings with Anthony Joshua but couldn't because he was preparing for a fight of his own at the time.

"I never thought I would experience the life I've lived in the last few years," he says.

"I couldn't have even dreamt about some of the things that have happened.

"From someone who got kicked out of school, who hasn't got any GCSEs, it's one of them where I'm proud for making my family proud and every day is a blessing that I get to do what I love to do and to be able to pass some wisdom to others, that if you believe in your dream you can do it.

"Every day, everything I do is for those who don't believe in themselves and for those who are told they'll come to nothing, because that was me. I never believed in myself and when I first pulled on a pair of boxing gloves it was to lose weight, that was it.

"I never thought I'd one day box for GB and one day then turn professional, sign a contract with Sky, headline my own arena. You list the things I've done and it's crazy. And it's still early for me.

"I'm no idiot in thinking I'm some young pup, but I live the lifestyle. There's no reason why I haven't got six, seven, eight years to do something, to become someone. I'll carry on living my life like that. And carry on being me and doing the best I can."