For every dream made true in Hollywood, thousands more are dashed. Young hopefuls flock to tinsel town hoping to be discovered and handed a shot at fame and fortune. Before they know it, they are lost in the crowd.
Hamzah Sheeraz is leaving as little to chance as possible. Sheeraz moved out to California earlier this year and barely a week seems to pass without the 22 year old junior middleweight turning up at another famed California gym, looking for hard work. For all the latest fight odds, visit our sportsbook.
The Ten Goose Gym, the Wild Card, the Brickhouse. Have we missed any out? “Robert Garcia’s Academy,” Sheeraz (13-0, 9 KO’s) told 32Red. “Oh, and Buddy McGirt’s.”
“My trainer, Ricky Funez, has got all the links for sparring. When I first got out to America Ricky knew that I wanted to mix it with the best. In the first camp we were just getting used to each other but this is the second one now and as soon as I landed we knew we wanted to spar everyone.
“That’s what we’ve done. We’ve got the rounds in with people like David Benevidez and all the top boys. It’s been great and come December 4th I’m more than confident to be honest with you.”
The weather may be warmer in California but for a young, unknown British fighter, life is harder. Sheeraz could easily stay at home in his comfort zone, hand choosing sparring partners and comfortable in familiarity.
Out on the west coast, Sheeraz is the sparring partner, his reputation as one of British boxing’s most promising young fighters counting for little. Life may be lonelier and training demanding but the benefits are clear.
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“I think it’s the fact that you’re getting in there and holding your own. It’s one thing getting in the ring with people and getting beaten up. It’s another holding your own and knowing that you’re on that level with them,” he said.
“That’s what really helps. Being around these people, watching them and learning little things. It all comes together at the end of the day. This is probably the first fight I’ve had where I’m more than excited to get in the ring and we’re still a week away.”
Sheeraz was a child when Amir Khan successfully set out to seek his fortune in Hollywood and Ricky Hatton tried to add some new tools to his box with a late career move to train under Floyd Mayweather Snr. He was still in his cot when Lennox Lewis dominated the heavyweight division from his American base. Sheeraz wasn’t fixated on crossing the Atlantic as a young fighter but he has studied boxing history and has noticed a pattern.
“You know what I did realise? That a lot of British fighters would get to world title level and have a good win and a couple of defences. They’d then come up against top, top opposition, lose and then reset and go to America after a loss.
I thought, ‘Why do that after a potential loss when I’ve got good backing from my sponsors? Why not get my arse out and relocate out there now?’ I know it takes sacrifice but that’s what boxing is about.
“Short term pain, long term gain. It works. It opened my eyes when I first went out there because you start noticing little things that you take for granted when you’re over here. It makes me all the more hungry and and the more willing to succeed, God willing.”
If the move to America was designed to wring as much as possible out of his natural ability then this weekend’s intriguing clash with Bradley Skeete has been chosen as the fight to announce Sheeraz properly to British boxing fans.
A series of eye-catching performances on undercards have impressed his promoter, Frank Warren, and toughened his mind and body to the realities of fighting for a living but beating one well known domestic opponent can elevate a fighter’s profile more than a string of dominant victories over hard but anonymous foreign opposition.
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“100%. Bradley is a British fighter, he was an outright British champion and he’s known over here,” Sheeraz said. “These other fighters I’ve fought have been tough but nobody has heard of them. People just start saying, “Oh, here we go. He’s in with another bum.”
“At the end of the day you get tired of it. When you get in that ring you want people to take notice of you and your victories so Bradley Skeete was the perfect name. I’ve got to get in there, get the job done and hopefully become a force to be reckoned with.”
To do that, Sheeraz will need to bridge a massive gap in experience. Skeete has engaged in more title fights than Sheeraz has had professional contests. If Sheeraz does come out on top, it is unlikely to be because he has produced something Skeete has never seen before. It will be because he was the better man in the night. If he can do that against a fighter with Skeete’s pedigree, expect Sheeraz to be pushed towards the head of Warren’s stable.
“I see every fight as a test and on paper it is my biggest test. Experience wise, he’s had more title fights than I’ve had actual fights. he’s been in these championship fights and he’s been boxing a lot longer than I have but to be honest and to put it bluntly, if I was his age and hadn’t won a world title I wouldn’t be boxing anymore.
He’s a great name and from his point of view it’s a perfect fight to come back to. He’s got a young, ambitious guy in front of him and from an experience point of view he’ll think that will be pivotal. It’ll be a spectacular fight and one I’m looking forward to
“If he loses he’s gotta retire. There’s no point in him carrying on boxing. He’s gonna come in with all guns blazing. I saw one of his interviews where he said he’s gonna smash my face in. I really hope he tries. It won’t be ending well for him.”