When five time national junior Champion Raza Hamza entered the World of professional prizefighting as a painfully shy 21 year old in February 2015, it was felt that the biggest harness to him realising his enormous potential might be a lack of self-belief. No longer!
Three years down the line, the sleek 5ft 10 in Brummie Featherweight is unbeaten in 10 and, with half of his opponents extinguished before the first round was complete, the Asian ‘Prince’s’ confidence is in danger of spiralling off the scale.
‘I wasn’t born to be average, I was born to do big things, to stand out, to shine on the biggest shows. I know I’m blessed and the only person who can mess this up is myself,’ insists the 25 year old Haroon Headley coached starlet who clashes with former World-rated Super Bantam Lewis Pettitt in a high class eight rounder on Frank Warren’s double world title bill at London’s O2 Arena next month.
‘I’ve been working very hard for a long time and on April 14th the UK fans will finally realise how good I am. It’s my destiny to win. You can’t change that!
‘This is a huge World Championship bill yet already my fight with Lewis is kicking up a storm on social media and big side bets are being made. I’m loving the interest. I’m not remotely nervous.
‘I was a very popular amateur and the Asian community are craving a new (boxing) star. After 14th April, I intend to have people talking about me.
‘Right now, the city has some very good fighters. After Kal (Yafai, the WBA Super-Flyweight king), everyone is striving to be the city’s second world champion. There’s Tommy Langford, Gamal (Yafai), Sam Eggington. We’re all destined for big things.’
Thus far, raging Raza’s explosive exploits have largely been hidden away on provincial small hall shows but no he believes it’s finally time to announce himself.
‘Lewis is the perfect opponent for me to break out,’ says Hamza who is still to meet an opponent with a winning record and is yet to venture past round six.
‘After this, everything will change. I’d love a belt around my waist this year. Beating Lewis Pettitt in style will bring me a big following. After that, I’ll only be facing fighters with winning records who are coming to win. I’ll be on my way!’
To secure this opportunity the classy yet combustible Midland has been required to concede home court to confront a former WBA Inter-Continental and WBO European Champion who has triumphed in 20 of 22 starts. No issue, insists Hamza.
‘I’ll be bringing a lot to ringside myself but I hope the Arena is full of Lewis Pettitt fans. I’ll have to prove my character. It’ll give me a chance to show how good I am. I love being the outsider, love being booed!
‘Lewis has achieved good things. He was a champion, rated four in the world. I take nothing from him. He’ll prepare right and will be coming to win. From experience, I know that one shot can change everything. He’s coming to beat me so I definitely need to bring my A Game.
‘But Lewis has had his day. It’s true he’s been involved in longer fights but who has he faced? I’m faster, stronger, younger, hungrier and he’ll find I hit much, much harder than anyone he’s fought before. If he’s careless, this could be over in a round. I hit extremely hard. I promise he will touch the floor in this fight!
‘But I’m not looking for a knockout. I’m gonna show classy boxing. This is exactly the type of fight to make fans take notice.’
Pettitt v Hamza is part of a huge night of boxing at The O2 topped by Billy Joe Saunders’ fourth defence of his WBO Middleweight World Title against Martin Murray and Terry Flanagan’s challenge for the vacant WBO Super-Lightweight World Title against undefeated American Maurice Hooker.
An unmissable card also features rising Light-Heavyweight star Anthony ‘The Beast’ Yarde and Heavyweight sensation ‘Dynamite’ Daniel Dubois, plus Darryll Williams defending his English Super-Middleweight title against Lennox Clarke while Hackney Super-Lightweight talent Ohara Davies makes his highly-anticipated comeback;
Peckham Welterweight Johnny Garton, Southampton Featherweight Ryan Garner, Chigwell Flyweight Harvey Horn and Erith Flyweight Jake Pettitt complete a stacked card with the professional debuts of Bolton Welterweight Khaleel Majid and Hainult Cruiserweight James Branch.
Tickets for April 14th priced from £40 (Tier) to £300 (Hospitality) are available to purchase via www.axs.com.