School's out for Tamworth muay thai sensation Josh McCulloch, allowing the teen to disappear farther down the rabbit hole of a sport he hopes to become a world champion in - sooner rather than later.
McCulloch, 18, who graduated from Tamworth High School last year, will take the next step towards that goal when he faces Ibrahim Abousaleh on a Fight Zone promotion at Doyalson Wyee RSL, on the Central Coast, on Saturday night.
He will put none of his five titles - including a 58-kilogram national full-Thai-rules belt and a 58kg NSW state belt - on the line in a fight against someone he says is a well-credentialled opponent who has won titles in his native Lebanon.
Beating Abousaleh would open more doors for him, he said.
The fight comes at a time he has long dreamed of: when school and muay thai were no longer competing for his attention, and he could intensify his training in a sport that rescued him after he suffered third-degree burns to 18 per cent of his body in a 2014 high-school science accident.
Some 12 months later, he walked into Chaffey's Black Belt Academy, in need of a confidence boost, and connected with trainer Scott Chaffey.
Of his current regime, he said: "I literally wake up, train, go home, eat, go to work and then train - not needing to worry about any study ... straight into muay thai everyday.
"It's absolutely awesome; it's a dream come true. I was hoping that this year would be the year that I can just focus on muay thai.
"And now that I'm doing it, it's just unbelievable. I'm happy everyday knowing that I get to do something I love."
The training boost has left him feeling "much, much stronger" and quicker.
The "new and improved" McCulloch hopes to fight for a world title this year or next year. He is on a eight-fight winning streak, with a record of 10 wins, two losses and a draw.
Two other Chaffey fighters, Zac Wheatley and Donny Bailey, are also on Saturday's card.