Hamzah Sheeraz believes he is on the path to greatness after being recognised by his community, days after the best performance of his career.
Sheeraz pipped cricket sensation Naomi Dattani and trailblazing football duo Bhupinder Singh Gill and Anwar Uddin to Sports Personality Of The Year at the Asian Achievers Awards at the weekend, after dazzling on his last outing with a punch-perfect display against Dmytro Mytrofanov.
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The referee stopped the middleweight contest early in the second round after Sheeraz dropped his previously unbeaten opponent for the fourth time in the fight, which took place on the undercard of Oleksandr Usyk’s controversial heavyweight title win over Daniel Dubois in Wroclaw.
“It was definitely my greatest performance to date – also because of the opponent, who was an undefeated Olympian,” Sheeraz told Sky Sports News after picking up his award at a glitzy ceremony at London’s Park Lane Hilton.
“I think a lot of people were writing me off, saying it was a step too far for me, especially heading towards his backyard. There was a lot of expectation on his shoulders and everybody thought that I would just fold.
“But, you know, I’m born to do great things.”
Knockout artist Sheeraz, who extended his perfect record to 18 wins from 18 fights (14KOs) with the demolition of Mytrofanov, also celebrated seven years since he turned professional at the weekend.
The east London fighter says he’s had no choice but to learn on the job in the paid ranks, with his sights now trained on winning a world title as part of what he hopes will be a lasting legacy in the sport.
“I didn’t really have a very well-decorated amateur career, I had loads of fights but it wasn’t particularly decorated,” Sheeraz explained.
“So that transition into the pros was a very slow process, even though 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 on things, I almost have to pinch myself.
“I’m just looking forward to the next steps – and the ambition is to become a world champion, to unify divisions, to unify titles and to try to be that next big thing in the sport of boxing.
“That would have a massive impact [on kids who look like us]. I’ve always said for as long as my career goes, even if I can change just one child’s life, I will be a very, very happy man. But I’m sure, Inshallah (God-willing), by the time I have hung up my gloves, I would have changed loads of lives by then.
“Leaving a legacy is something that is huge for me and nowadays it’s very rare because everyone is chasing a pound note. Legacy is what I am in the sport for. If I was in it for a pound note, I’d be calling out all these YouTubers.”
Sheeraz added: “I’m used to having obstacles in my life, like ever since I was young. My father was in and out of prison, and it was always me and mum, just us two and my younger siblings, so the journey has always been hard. It’s not like it’s been easy.
“When my father came out after doing his last stretch, ever since that day life has been a blessing and I’m just extremely grateful for that.
“It’s matured me a lot earlier than I probably should have matured. Like at the age of 15, 16, I was doing the sorts of things a 30-year-old man would do. Those experiences have shaped me into the man that I am today, but I wouldn’t change it for a thing.”
Sheeraz confirmed a mouth-watering showdown with British champion Denzel Bentley – who ruthlessly despatched Kieran Smith in just 45 seconds in April – is just one of several potential options for his next bout.
“That fight will definitely happen – and when it does happen, it will be a cracker for sure,” he said.
“But I’ll sit down with my team and we’ll map out the route. Who knows? We could even be going to the Middle East.”
Sheeraz beat tough competition to land the Sports Personality of the Year award, with the 24-year-old admitting it was a moment to savour.
“It feels great to be recognised in front of a room of such inspirational, amazing people and it’s something I will be forever grateful for.
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“When I was a youngster, it was almost my dream to be someone – in the world, but also someone in our community especially – that people could look up to for inspiration and I’m in that position now and I’m really, really, really grateful for it.”
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