As we embrace the dawn of a new decade there are plenty of upcoming talents that will be looking to smash through barriers, punch home their potential and unleash their unbridled ambition in a bid to join the established elite.
Following the festive mini-break fans and enthusiasts are beginning to compile their new year wish lists of potential fights and discuss their ‘must-see’ clashes. I believe that before too long, these fighters’ names will be the ones that resonate with many amidst these conversations.
The obvious parallels with maturity and the apt surname of Sheeraz mean that clichés are never too far away, but the truth is that this young man from Ilford really has impressed the boxing fraternity with his mature approach, both with his performances and the way he conducts himself outside the ropes.
Hamzah’s carefully concealed arsenal of punch brutality and savage finishing is juxtaposed against an articulate and affable demeanour which is often a cause of shock for his opponents once they share the ring with him. It certainly seemed to be the case for his recent bout against Ryan Kelly for the vacant WBO European Super Welter title.
Sheeraz, who is just one of a current crop of exciting young boxers from the Frank Warren stable, secured the European belt in scintillating fashion in a coming of age fight against tough Midlands operator Kelly. It was a step up in class and his opponent from Birmingham came to fight, Kelly aggressively ploughed forward in the opening rounds, but Sheeraz stayed calm and wasn’t overawed by the onslaught or the occasion.
With a lean physique and standing at 6ft 3, you could be conned into thinking that the 20-year-old would be susceptible to the body shot but he is very tidy defensively, tucking his long levers against his torso whilst amazingly still covering his chin with his gloves. His physical attributes allow him to box at length but his performance on this occasion highlighted his brilliance as an inside fighter. He slipped a jab-by no means a sloppy jab either-in round 6 and punished it with a blistering right cross that was timed to perfection and poleaxed Kelly. As a stunned Kelly clambered to his feet gallantly, Sheeraz leant forward, one foot in front of the other, like a bull in the traps. He jangled his gloves and arms in front of his own body, it was like a human illustration of the impending crescendo as he awaited the nod from the referee to continue to unleash an attack that had Kelly covering up on the ropes and looking for the referee’s intervention.
The win marked Sheeraz’s fourth consecutive KO victory and notched him to 10-0 with six coming inside the distance. The domestic scene at super welterweight is healthy, with the likes of Fitzgerald, Fowler and Cheeseman all having had big fight nights in the last 12 months. Nights that he could experience himself in 2020 if the trajectory of his progression continues.
Rarely has there been a fighter who transcends expectations so overwhelmingly when transitioning from amateur to professional as this young man. A well decorated amateur, McCann has been able to leave behind the point scoring, jab one-two methods that are central to the amateur game and has shown an appetite for ‘getting the job done’ using great footwork and unorthodox angles.
Despite having only had five professional fights, McCann is undoubtedly one of those edge of your seat kind of boxers already and comparisons-whether premature or not-have been drawn with a certain maverick Sheffield fighter from the 90’s who went by the name of Prince Naz.
Having only just turned 19-years-old, the man nicknamed ‘The Menace’ has dazzled in his displays to date, showcasing a variety of skilful combinations on his way to recording 4 KO victories in his 5 bouts and whereas it’s too early to compare him to previous elite British boxers, there’s an undeniable style that is difficult to ignore and should be merited.
During a stoppage victory against, he produced a shot reminiscent of Prince Naseem Hamed, dipping his left shoulder and throwing a corkscrew shot up through the guard and dropping his opponent in the process. Okay, the opponent was there to be beaten but it was more about the ability to be able to throw that type of shot confidently and time it well. Few boxers are able to lunge into shots like that and be able to calculate the distance appropriately in order to connect and not leave themselves open.
McCann has featured on numerous televised Warren cards and with his style so aesthetically appealing, he will surely continue to feature heavily. The next step will be to add titles, the bantamweight division is rich in British talent with the likes of Andrew Selby, Lee McGregor and Kash Farooq. Marc Leach holds the English title at Bantamweight and it surely won’t be long before McCann starts to mix it on the domestic scene.
The Super Bantamweight from Stoke-on-Trent is one of those fighters who is just a joy to watch. The footwork, the angles and the almost balletic movement he displays whilst pivoting around his opponents has fans applauding nearly as loudly as when leather pounds flesh. Masoud, (7-0, 1 KO) skilfully fashions openings for himself in fights by making his opponents appear ponderous and clumsy, punishing their apparent lack of ring nous. No surprise then that the man nicknamed ‘The Maverick’ drew his inspiration from Joe Calzaghe and Prince Naseem Hamed, two legendary boxers who are widely considered to be among the best movers in British Boxing history.
It’s clear Masoud is a student of the game, refusing to rush into fights, head-hunting in anticipation of quick stoppages. Instead he uses the rounds in fights to studiously plot the downfall of opponents, picking away at their defences. The ability he possesses in terms of his bamboozling movement mean that he can fight within himself if the situation dictates it. He can escalate through the gears when necessary, thus preserving energy and preventing damage.
He switch-hits regularly, pings in shots from the waist and moves in and out so quickly you’d swear he’s attached to a bungee cord. He doesn’t yet carry concussive punching power, but he is no less entertaining for it. Seeing the way, he stepped around the side of Yesner Talavera in a recent bout on the undercard of Josh Warrington’s demolition of Sofiane Takoucht, clipping in hooks, uppercuts and body shots, was indicative of a fighter far more mature than his 23 years.
With some savvy matchmaking, this young prodigious talent will surely be celebrating a surge up through the rankings in 2020.