Fresh off winning his first national title at his third attempt, boxer Wade Ryan says he's fighting as good as he ever has as he continues his "never-ending learning curve".
"To be honest, I think I'm improving each fight and the hunger is probably more there now compared to four or five years ago," he said.
"When we're still hungry and improving, which we find we are, and fighting well - we still think there's better fights ahead for me. The body feels good."
Ryan dethroned Cessnock-based Troy O'Meley - who was previously undefeated - in a split-decision result at Cessnock on Saturday night.
He captured the Australian super welterweight title and the vacant International Boxing Organisation international super welterweight title.
In halting a two-fight losing sequence to improve his record to 17 wins against nines losses, Ryan is potentially now three wins away from fighting for a world title, said David Syphers, who has trained Ryan since he first started boxing as a boy at Gunnedah's PCYC.
Syphers said the biggest night of his 30-year-old fighter's career was "a long time coming".
"This is a turning point," he said. "This puts him back at the top of Australia, pretty well - where he should have been.
"Wade's worked hard for this - we've worked hard for this ... This time they couldn't take it off him: they tried."
That hard work made it all the more rewarding for Ryan, as well as being able to share it with his supporters.
It was an away fight but the Gunnedah boxer had 100-odd supporters travel to Cessnock who helped create something close to a hometown atmosphere for Ryan.
"We all went back to one of the pubs at Cessnock [after the fight], had a few quiet beers, a laugh and talked about the night," Ryan said.
"I just wanted to repay everyone for coming down to support me.
"I wanted to thank everyone that stood by me throughout the years, all the work they've put in and celebrate with them."
Ryan is now eyeing a defence of his titles at Gunnedah Town Hall on March 27. An opponent is yet to be named.
Ryan's long-term partner, former Australian amateur champion Enja Prest, will make her much-anticipated pro debut in Sydney on January 16. She is also trained by Syphers.