UK’s "best young prospect" Sheeraz dreams of becoming pound-for-pound great

“If he doesn’t go on and win a world title, I’ll eat my hat,” declared Carl Frampton after Hamzah Sheeraz’s latest win.

Former heavyweight king David Haye was in full agreement as Frampton labelled the 21-year-old the “best young prospect we have in the UK”.

Sheeraz is on a clear trajectory and moving quickly towards the top.

Victory over Guido Nicolás Pitto saw Sheeraz move to 12-0 as a professional, defending his WBO European super-welterweight title for the third time.

The Slough-born 21-year-old, who turned professional on his 18th birthday, has wasted little time making his mark in the boxing ring.

With fighting in the blood, Sheeraz says: “I was punching as soon as I was born – my guard was up!”

“My uncle was a boxer, he was an eight-time national amateur champion, so he took me to a gym one day when I was little and I haven’t looked back since.

“It was just a matter of time before I went to a gym, I started boxing at eight years old then here we are now – I’ve got the European title and it’s just all about moving forward.

“I’ve got time on my side but at the same time I don’t want to waste time, so I just want to keep working hard, get in there and do my thing.”

Despite falling in love with the sport as a kid, Sheeraz became disillusioned as an overlooked amateur and was briefly lost to the sport.

“To be honest with you, I hated the amateurs,” he says. “I loved it when I was a kid but when it got to the stage of ‘when your face fits’ that’s when I stopped liking it.

“When I was 17-years-old, I was meant to get picked in the Commonwealth Youth Games, I didn’t get picked and that just demotivated me, so I stopped boxing for a good eight months.

“Because I was just sitting on my a***, I needed to do something so I went to college, did an electrical apprenticeship.

“I did half of it then I got bored and I was 17 and thinking, ‘what am I doing’? I didn’t go out partying, I don’t drink, what every other 17-year-old was doing, it didn’t really appeal to me.

“Everything happens for a reason. I went back into the gym and luckily I got the opportunity to turn pro with Frank Warren.”

Signing his professional deal on his 18th birthday, Sheeraz acknowledges he was fortunate to get a shot.

“I was nothing special at the time, I was just a name, but I’m grateful I got that opportunity and haven’t looked back since.”

But despite now emerging as a top prospect, he had to do the hard yards as a pro before quickly rising through the ranks.

“I was a bit shocked,” he says. “I thought, ‘listen, I’m pro now, fighting on TV with Frank Warren’. But it was hard.

“I was a float once in my second fight, I sold around 400 tickets and I didn’t end up fighting that night.

“It’s not all glitz and glamour – you’ve got to do your pro apprenticeship but I’ve done that now,

“I got the chance to get that title, and I know I’ve just got to keep working hard and the rewards will come.”

With a towering, 6ft 3inch frame, Sheeraz is already expected to move through the weights and has ambitions to become a pound-for-pound great.

He adds: “I reckon by the time everything goes to plan and, god willing, I’m unbeaten and get a few more titles, I’ll move up in the next two years or so.

“But finishing my career I could end up anywhere between super-middleweight and light-heavyweight, because I will have the structure and frame for it eventually.

“I want to become a pound-for-pound champion, not just a world champion. Obviously getting there first is the main thing, but that’s the big ambition.”

Watch the full episode of Mirror Fighting:One to Watch as Sheeraz discusses his journey so far.

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