RYAN Aston says he will be stepping up in class when he faces Paul Samuels this Saturday.

The Dudley middleweight takes on the Welshman over six rounds at Nottingham Arena on the undercard of Carl Froch’s IBF super-middleweight title clash with Lucian Bute.

Samuels has lost his last three fights but 12 of his 21 wins have come from knock-outs and he has previously challenged for the British light-middleweight crown.

Leaving Aston to expect a tough test.

He said: “He is a good opponent for me and it’s a step up, no doubt about it.

“He may have lost his last three but he is still a class up and a test.

“His record does not suggest he is easily beatable and there are quite a few knock-outs on his record so he obviously has power.

“But I’ve been training hard for it and I feel pretty confident.”

Aston’s seventh professional fight is likely to take place in a red-hot atmosphere as Nottingham hero Froch makes his hometown return on a show which sold 5,000 tickets within the first hour of going on sale.

But “Tank” is no stranger to the big occasion having fought on the undercard of last year’s David Haye-Wladimir Klitschko clash in Hamburg and on two Kell Brook shows.

He’s also had the best possible preparation, having spent last week sparring with Froch, an experience Aston described as “surreal.”

He said: “It’s strange because you almost take it for granted you just sparred with a two-time world champion.

“You don’t do that kind of thing every day and in terms of sparring you can’t ask for better.

“Carl is a brilliant lad too. I spoke to him for hours on end and got to know him a bit, he gave me some advice.”

Romanian-born Bute, who is based in Canada, steps into the ring as champion on Saturday night but having seen Froch at such close quarters, Aston is predicting the Cobra will send his fans home happy.

He said: “I think Carl will just prove too strong for Bute in the end.

“He is a credit to the sport, he never ducks anyone and gives the fans what they want to see.”