For Johnny Fisher, it was a simple choice between Las Vegas and the aerial bombardment of Germany from 1944 to 1945.
Ensconced in his university studies, the up-and-coming heavyweight was offered the chance at the beginning of last year to fly to Sin City and spar with Joe Joyce, or stay immersed in his books.
In making the trip, he risked derailing his Second World War-themed dissertation and downgrading his degree from a potential first. But the choice was a no-brainer for Fisher.
“It wasn’t your typical Vegas experience,” said the 21-year-old, who carries the nickname ‘the Romford Bull’. “But it was a surreal experience for a student.”
So, he mixed a boxing bombardment in the ring with Joyce ahead of his meeting with Daniel Dubois alongside an aerial one in his dissertation. And on Saturday he makes his step into the professional ranks in four rounds against Matt Gordon on the undercard to David Avanesyan and Josh Kelly at the SSE Arena, Wembley.
In the build-up, he has continued to pursue his historical passion with a host of documentaries but shuns the idea that he is a rarity in the ring.
“There’s a lot of intelligent boxers out there, Joe Joyce has an art degree,” he said. “And there’s this misconception that we get punched and don’t know a thing.”
For Fisher, the main specialist subject of his degree was the Russian Revolution but the historical interest ranges from the Battle of Hastings to the Vietnam War.
Quite whether Vegas derailed his degree from a first to a 2:1 remains a big unknown, although the dissertation was finally completed back at home while helping keep his dad’s business afloat in the height of lockdown.
A wholesale cheese supplier to restaurants and cafes, instead the family turned their hand to selling meat in order to keep the cash flow going as restaurants and cafes shut and demand turned to zero.
Now, his focus is solely on the boxing having been snapped up by Matchroom ahead of his professional debut. He is being trained by Mark Tibbs, while ironically considering Fisher’s past he is also set to start working with Dubois.
“Joe’s a good friend,” said Fisher. “When I first started sparring against him I was pretty raw but I got more competitive. And I’ve sparred with Dave Allen and Hughie Fury. Both were great, and Peter Fury gave some great advice. And now it’ll hopefully be great to learn from Daniel.”
Fisher’s father used to box for Repton and was on Leyton Orient’s books as a footballer before getting injured.
As for the sort of fighter he might be, he said: “I’d never compare myself to someone as good as Lennox Lewis but I need to look at people like that, Foreman, Ali, Frazier, Larry Holmes.
“For now, I just need to stay calm and relaxed. I’ve got the mindset of an academic to do everything you can rather than cut corners. I just have to trust the process.”