Hamzah Sheeraz believes he is on the path to greatness after being recognized by his community, days after the best performance of his career.
Sheeraz edged out cricket sensation Naomi Dattani and pioneering football duo Bhupinder Singh Gill and Anwar Uddin to the Sports Personality of the Year title at the Asian Achievers Awards this weekend, after dazzling in his latest outing with a performance perfect against Dmytro Mytrofanov.
The referee stopped the middleweight fight early in the second round after Sheeraz dropped his previously undefeated opponent for the fourth time in the fight, which went on the undercard of the controversial heavyweight title victory of Oleksandr Usyk against Daniel Dubois in Wroclaw.
“It was definitely my best performance so far – also thanks to my opponent, who was an undefeated Olympian,” Sheeraz said. Sky Sports News after receiving her award at a lavish ceremony at London’s Park Lane Hilton.
“I think a lot of people wrote me off, saying it was a step too far for me, especially heading out to his garden. There were a lot of expectations on his shoulders and everyone thought I was just going to bed.
“But you know, I was born to do great things.”
KO artist Sheeraz, who extended his perfect record to 18 wins in 18 fights (14 KOs) with the demolition of Mytrofanov, also celebrated seven years since he turned professional this weekend.
The east London fighter says he had no choice but to learn on the job in the paid ranks, with his sights now set on winning a world title as part of what he hopes to be a lasting legacy in the sport.
“I didn’t really have a very decorated amateur career, I had a lot of fights but it wasn’t particularly decorated,” Sheeraz explained.
“So this transition to the pros has been a very slow process, although I’m now in a position where I’m (potentially) fighting for world titles at the end of this year or early next year.
“When I slow things down and look back, I almost have to pinch myself.
“I’m looking forward to the next steps – and the ambition is to become world champion, unify the divisions, unify the titles and try to be the next big thing in the sport of boxing.
“It would have a huge impact (on children who look like us). I’ve always said that as long as my career lasts, even if I can change the life of just one child, I will be a very, very happy man. But I am sure, Inshallah (God willing), by the time I hang up my gloves, I will have changed a lot of lives.
“Leaving a legacy is something that is huge for me and these days it’s very rare because everyone is chasing a pound note. Legacy is why I’m in this sport. If I was here for a pound note, I’d be shouting out all these YouTubers.”
Sheeraz added, “I’m used to having obstacles in my life, like ever since I was young. My dad was in and out of jail, and it was always me and my mom, just the two of us and my younger siblings, so the journey has always been difficult, but it’s not like it’s been easy.
“When my dad came out after his home stretch, ever since that day, life has been a blessing and I am extremely grateful.
“It made me mature a lot earlier than I probably should have matured. At the age of 15 or 16, I was doing the kinds of things a 30-year-old would do. Those experiences made me the “The man I am. I am today, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
Sheeraz has confirmed that a mouth-watering showdown with British champion Denzel Bentley – who mercilessly knocked out Kieran Smith in just 45 seconds in April – is just one of several potential options for his next fight.
“This fight will definitely happen – and when it does, it will definitely be a cracker,” he said.
“But I’m going to sit down with my team and we’ll chart the course. Who knows? We might even go to the Middle East.”
Sheeraz beat off tough competition to win the Sports Personality of the Year award, with the 24-year-old admitting it was a moment to savour.
“It’s great to be recognized in front of a room full of such inspiring and extraordinary people and it’s something I will be forever grateful for.
“When I was young, it was almost my dream to be someone – in the world, but also someone in our community in particular – that people could look up to and I’m in that position now and I’m really, really, really grateful for that.”
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