Marcus Browne could not have asked for a better time to link up with one of the top trainers in the sport today.

The veteran light heavyweight contender took a leap of faith in relocating to Dallas where he is now working with Derrick James. The move from the East Coast didn’t happen in a New York minute for Browne, who put a lot of thought in the switch in coaches ahead of the biggest fight of his pro career as he challenges lineal/WBC/IBF light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev (16-0, 16KOs).

James is the current head trainer for unified WBC/IBF welterweight titlist Errol Spence (27-0, 21KOs) and lineal/WBC/WBA/IBF junior middleweight champion Jermell Charlo (34-1-1, 18KOs). Browne’s longtime friendship with Spence—including their time spent as part of the 2012 U.S. Olympic boxing team—played a role in the decision to head south for this fight.

“I spoke to Errol probably a year and a half ago, to be honest, before I moved here,” Browne told during a press conference to discuss the championship clash. “I just was planting the seeds before making the move here.

“The stars were aligned. Errol wasn’t fighting. Jermell was not fighting. [James] wasn’t super busy. So, we got to work in the gym. I was learning and growing. I felt like this is where I need to be.”

Browne (24-1, 16KOs) previously spent the bulk of his boxing life—amateur and pro—with Andre Rozier and Gary Stark Jr. before making the final decision earlier this summer to make a change. It came after the Staten Island native returned to the win column with a ten-round decision over Denis Grachev this past April, 20 months following a technical decision defeat to Jean Pascal in August 2019.

The move to Dallas came as a bit of a surprise to James, who was still in Las Vegas with Spence for what at the time was a planned August 21 superfight with former eight division champion Manny Pacquiao. Spence was denied the opportunity after a torn retina was discovered during a pre-fight MRI test, having only recently gained clearance to return to the ring.

By the time James and the team returned home, Browne was already acclimated to new surroundings and eager to hit the ground running.

“We were in Vegas, when he moved to Dallas,” James explained of the move during a previous installment of The PBC Podcast with Kenneth Bouhairie and Michael Rosenthal. “I caught up when I came back in town. He came down to the gym and worked out.

“After that, he asked if I asked he could work him out. I normally don’t do that, I don’t mess with other people’s fighters. But we worked him out and that was it.”

Browne and James quickly gelled, with the 31-year-old southpaw feeling at home and embracing the change of pace.

“I feel like I’m in training camp every day,” Browne said of the move. “It’s much slower. You get to think, get to plan things and knock ‘em down. It’s not a hustle and bustle city.”

Beterbiev-Browne will headline an ESPN+ broadcast on December 17 from Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox