HAMZAH SHEERAZ, ON Saturday, has the opportunity to post his most emphatic and meaningful statement to date when he goes up against Liam Williams at London’s Copper Box Arena in what is our opening show of 2024, live on TNT Sports. It is a middleweight fight with humdinger written all over it and it is one I cannot wait for. I really don’t see this fight being too attritional and I suspect they will be looking to knock each other’s block off right from the first bell. Hamzah is a rising star in my book and someone we have long identified as a future world champion. He is also a fine young gent who conducts himself perfectly and is a fine ambassador for the sport.
He invests in himself to ensure he benefits from the best of everything across his training camps in Los Angeles, while also making significant sacrifices when it comes to spending lengthy periods away from home. Hamzah is prepared to do whatever it takes to give himself the highest possible chance of reaching the pinnacle and, up to now, it certainly appears to be paying dividends. It seems that the harder the task we put in front of him, the easier he makes it look. This was particularly evidenced in his last fight against the undefeated Ukrainian Dmytro Mytrofanov, who was a seasoned veteran of the hard school of knocks that was the World Series of Boxing, which is the best against the best in the amateurs. Hamzah took him out after 30-odd seconds of round two on his opponent’s home show. But we need to keep challenging him and this is where Liam comes in. We obviously know him well and, for a period of time, he caused absolute carnage when he moved up to the middleweight division, only coming unstuck against the then undefeated world champion Demetrius Andrade over in America.
He showed us in a brief cameo at York Hall late last year that he has lost nothing of his fabled power and ability to intimidate. Hamzah has got to deal with this and counter it. If he does so, this will be a notable name on his resume and we can really start plotting toward a world title challenge for him. I feel he is destined to become a world champion, perhaps at more than one weight, considering the size of him! Also, make sure you tune in to TNT Sports to catch the British lightweight title clash between Sam Noakes and the English champion Lewis Sylvester, plus Masood Abdulah fighting for the Commonwealth Silver featherweight title against the 2016 Olympian Qais Ashfaq. Then we’ve got Anthony Yarde back in action again following his exploits against Artur Beterbiev last year taking on the experienced Serbian Marko Nikolic. I make no secret of the fact that, if we get through without any mishaps, I would like to see Anthony in an all-British blockbuster against Joshua Buatsi, who impressed last week in beating Dan Azeez.
It is a fight the fans have been calling for for some time and I see no reason why it can’t be delivered in the middle of this year in what would be a massive occasion for the sport. Tune in for Fight Night Live from the Copper Box Arena on Saturday from 7pm on TNT Sports 1. BOXING, AS IT occasionally tends to do, delivered us a low blow last week when news filtered through revealing that Tyson Fury had sustained a nasty gash above his eye during sparring. Such news bulletins are deflating for all concerned and, first and foremost, you feel for both fighters who have been away from their families for a prolonged period of time. Then there is everyone who has worked so hard in organising an event of this magnitude. However, none of the graft will go to waste and we already have a new date of May 18 to focus on.
The harsh truth of the matter remains that boxing is, and has always been, an unavoidably accident-prone sport that you can never completely legislate for. We are going to see Tyson Fury vs Oleksandr Usyk for the crown of undisputed champion, although I sense this will actually come as a disappointment to some. The usual suspects were out in force peddling their drivel when news of the cut broke, as if it somehow justified their warped narratives. It will probably pain them when these two step into the ring for the biggest fight of the century. Unfortunately big fights are often subject to delays. Just look at a few recent encounters that have met with rave reviews. Artur Beterbiev against Callum Smith, Joshua Buatsi against Dan Azeez – both of these fights were supposed to take place last year. Also our main event on Saturday between Hamzah and Liam was originally pencilled in for the beginning of December. These things happen. What matters most is that the fights are worth waiting for.