Bridging the Gap: Hamzah Sheeraz and the plan to cross over and make a name for himself

By Declan Taylor

HAMZAH SHEERAZ is seated in a small round chair in the corner of a private room three floors up the Carlton Tower Jumeirah hotel in Knightsbridge as a variety of media outlets arrive, shake hands, ask their questions, and depart.

The 24-year-old remains still for two hours, addressing similar topics, reflecting on his recent victory, and discussing potential opponents during each interview.

Boxing News is the final stop of a busy afternoon for the fighter from Ilford, still only five days removed from the most significant win of his career, a one-round victory over Liam Williams at the Copper Box.

At this point, most individuals would struggle to articulate their responses, giving terse answers without awareness, but not Sheeraz. When asked if he wants a break before the interview, he responds, “Nah, I’m warmed up now and in the zone,” taking a sip from his water bottle and placing it by the leg of his chair. “Let’s roll.”

In the aftermath of such a major win, which was delayed by two months due to a training injury, most boxers would be on vacation. However, Sheeraz, known for having an old head on young shoulders, has set aside time for strategizing.

“These past few days have really made me reflect on things more deeply,” he begins. “I understand that my goal is to win world titles, but I also want to be well-known, not just a titleholder.

“I want to be the kind of fighter who, when tickets go on sale for a world title fight, sells out the O2 Arena immediately. That’s when you really have the public’s interest and that’s crucial. Only then can you unify divisions and compete in major fights.

“From a business perspective, with the current exposure and momentum I have, I believe that goal is achievable.”

Hamzah Sheeraz (James Chance/Getty Images)

Despite his immense potential and talent, Sheeraz has yet to break into mainstream circles. The reality is that, outside the heavyweight division, very few active British boxers have achieved that level of recognition.

“There are numerous opportunities and paths to explore, but you begin to realize that boxing is more of a business than a sport,” he adds.

“In the past, it was solely about fighting, but now I think, ‘If I fight this opponent, it will capture the public’s interest and make the next fight even bigger.’ It’s like a game of chess. It opens up new possibilities that I hadn’t considered before but now make perfect sense.”

This explains why Sheeraz has committed to multiple media engagements in the week following his victory. The adrenaline rush after the fight was so intense that he didn’t sleep for 48 hours. When he finally rested, his first instinct was to return to the gym.

“It’s more for my mental clarity and sanity,” Sheeraz explains. “I didn’t know what to do. I had been in camp for 13 weeks, following a strict routine every day. Now, it’s like I have freedom to do whatever I want. I felt lost, not knowing what to do.

“Right after the fight, we went back to the hotel, some people came to celebrate. I bought food for Liam and his family as a gesture of appreciation. I couldn’t sleep for 48 hours, it was crazy. I tried to sleep, but I was wide awake.

“I’m still surprised at how the fight unfolded. The dust has settled, and I can reflect on everything. Taz and Ricky told me before the fight that based on my performance, they couldn’t see it going the distance. I brushed it off initially, thinking they were just boosting my morale, but they were right.”

Sheeraz on his way to stopping Williams (Photo by James Chance/Getty Images)

The dominant win led his promoter Frank Warren to compare Sheeraz to Thomas Hearns and suggest a potential fight with Chris Eubank Jnr as the next step. Sheeraz sees Eubank as the bridge to achieving greater exposure and recognition.

“That’s the plan,” Sheeraz nods. “Eubank represents a significant opportunity for me to expand my reach. If he names his price, I’m sure Frank can arrange the fight.

“I think I need to increase awareness among casual fans. After a performance like the one against Liam Williams, boxing enthusiasts are aware, but the casual fans need to know. Being linked with Chris Eubank Jnr, who has a following among casual fans, would be an honor.”

While facing Eubank would boost his profile, it wouldn’t fulfill Sheeraz’s ultimate goal of winning a world championship. The conversation then shifts to Janibek Alimkhanuly, considered the top competitor at middleweight with two belts.

“He’s definitely the top guy in the division,” Sheeraz acknowledges. “His record speaks for itself, and he’s the one everyone wants to beat. I’m ready to fight him anytime and have full confidence in myself, but it goes back to generating public interest.

“He’s a champion that not many people know about. A victory over him would earn me a different level of respect. We’ll see how it all unfolds.

“Regardless, my ultimate goal remains unchanged: to become a three-weight unified world champion. That’s what I aim to achieve from now until the end of my career.”

His pursuit of championships has taken him to America, where he trains at the Ten Goose Boxing Club in Los Angeles under the guidance of Funez.

“It’s almost four years now,” he reflects. “When I’m there, I feel like I belong. The training camps are well-organized. As soon as I land in LA, my focus shifts to training. Our routine is set, and it’s like clockwork.

“For the last three camps, we’ve stayed in the same Air BnB. It’s a cozy bungalow in the Hollywood Hills. We’ve established a routine and feel at home there.”

Sheeraz’s signature jab has proven to be a potent weapon in his recent fights, thanks to Funez’s influence. The emphasis on mastering the basics has been crucial to his success.

“Ricky has been instrumental in developing my jab,” Sheeraz acknowledges. “He emphasizes perfecting the basics, which is something I’ve embraced. He knows my capabilities and pushes me to improve with each camp.”

With tougher competition on the horizon, including potential matches against Eubank or Ammo Williams, Sheeraz remains focused on achieving his goals and maximizing his exposure in the boxing world.

As he navigates the challenges of training during Ramadan and balancing his religious beliefs with his boxing career, Sheeraz remains committed to his path towards becoming a world champion.

His determination and dedication are evident as he remains focused on his goals and ready to face whatever challenges come his way.

Source link