Frank Warren: Hamzah Sheeraz is Middleweight Star in The Making

Boxing Scene

WHEN I LOOK down our stacked card for the bumper show at the Copper Box Arena on Saturday I am convinced that it features a good number of future world champions.

I have such confidence in our band of elite young fighters and healthy ticket sales suggest that the fans are getting behind them in numbers too. There are a few left if you fancy an action-packed night out in Stratford but, if you can’t make it, be sure to tune into BT Sport 1 from 7pm.

Truth be told, sorting out who gets the TV slots is a tricky business because we have got so many top young fighters on this card who are deserving of the status.

Deservedly headlining for the first time is our middleweight star in the making Hamzah Sheeraz, who impresses me in so many ways.

First and foremost, he can fight, he is now a strapping middleweight with physical dimensions that work to his advantage and he carries considerable power.

What also strikes me about him is the manner in which he conducts himself. Hamzah is a real young gentleman. Charismatic, charming and always polite. He obviously wants to succeed in boxing for himself, but he also wants to be a role model and inspire others to utilise the power of sport.

I believe Hamzah is a product of modern Britain, in many ways similar to those in Gareth Southgate’s England squad, who do the country so proud. Young people like Hamzah provide a shining example of how sport can unify communities and the nation as a whole.

In his second fight at 160lbs on Saturday, Hamzah takes on Francisco Emmanuel Torres for the WBC Silver title, having won the WBC International Silver belt in his first. The Silver belt is a ticket to ride up the rankings and, if he carries on as he is, Hamzah will soon be in the conversation when it comes to fighting for a world title.

Our co-main event, if you like, has got war written all over it. Two battle-hardened bangers ready to fight it out for the British and Commonwealth super middleweight titles. Lennox Clarke vs Mark Heffron is a cracking match that you would bet your bottom dollar on delivering the goods.

Lennox has endured a frustrating spell of injuries and hasn’t, up to now, been able to build on his success against Willy Hutchinson some 15 months ago. Mark has suffered British title misfortune at middleweight, but insists the extra eight pounds will make him an even more formidable operator.

Both fighters are with us at Queensberry, so we will be right behind them win or lose, but I genuinely wouldn’t be surprised if the post-fight chat centres on the subject of a potential rematch. We will see.

With us now being in July, it is high time for a Summertime Ball, and our fearsome featherweight Nick Ball gets the opportunity to build on his stunning performance at Wembley Stadium back in April.

Scouser Nick demolished the far more experienced Isaac Lowe and really announced himself on the big stage by winning the WBC Silver title. We were hoping he would be able to add the British and Commonwealth belts to his collection and we won the purse bid for him to challenge for the titles against Nathaniel Collins, but the unbeaten Scot withdrew due to injury.

So that will have to wait for another day and Nick will now defend his WBC belt against the tough Namibian Nathanael Kakololo. Taking on an African champion will provide Nick with a valuable extra layer of experience before he really pushes on up to world level and fighters like Kakololo should never be underestimated.

One young fighter who certainly won’t be underestimating his opponent on Saturday is Dennis McCann, who is taking a significant step up in class against James Beech jr with the WBC International Silver featherweight title on the line.

This represents unchartered territory for Dennis the Menace, what with jumping up in weight and taking on an experienced opponent who will most likely be bigger than him. James has only lost at a high level at super bantam and is also coming up himself.

This is the chance for Dennis to make a big statement and show that slightly off-key performances in his last couple of fights was down to difficulty in making weight. He is an exceptional talent and winning fights such as this will prove as much to everybody.

At the Copper Box we will also get to officially welcome Pierce O’Leary to the Queensberry ranks, with the Dubliner getting started with an eight-rounder before we head him into serious title action.

The 22-year-old super lightweight is a formidable talent and is so highly rated by his trainer Alan Smith from the Queensberry iBox Gym in Bromley. He is known as the Big Bang, so stand by for fireworks!

Another I am looking forward to seeing back in action is Ryan Garner, somebody I have banged the drum for since he made his debut with us at the age of 18.

He has come close to falling by the wayside a couple of times, but the penny has dropped and he is so switched on now and determined to make the most of his obvious talents.

Ryan will fight over eight rounds on Saturday in what will be his 12th fight, then he will be thrust into big title fights. He is known as The Piranha, so we will soon see if he sinks or swims.

Other fantastic talents on the card include our classy young light heavyweight Karol Itauma, spiteful punching super bantam Masood Abdulah and elite novices Umar Khan, Khalid Ali, Sonny Liston Ali and Sean Noakes.

Be sure to tune in to BT Sport 1 from 7pm for live action from the Copper Box Arena.

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