Hamzah Sheeraz believes another statement knockout victory over Liam Williams this weekend can pave the way for a showdown with Chris Eubank Jr.
The middleweight star has blasted his way through 18 opponents to date, stopping his last 12 with his toughest test yet waiting on Saturday in former world title challenger Williams at the Copper Box.
Sheeraz is well-placed to earn himself a title shot this year with reigning IBF and WBO champion Janibek Alimkhanuly perhaps the biggest challenge at 160lbs.
Closer to home however, there is the prospect of Eubank Jr who is looking for a new dance partner with the Conor Benn fight seemingly off the table for good.
Becoming world champion is the goal for Sheeraz but the 24-year-old believes a meeting with Eubank Jr can fill a void in the middleweight division and deliver another classic British rivalry.
‘If we are talking world titles it has to be Janibek. But in terms of the stage, the profile and the credit you will get, it has to be the Eubank Jr fight,’ Sheeraz told Metro.co.uk.
‘Domestically he is the biggest name in the division. That would give the division exactly what it needs.
‘If I do a job on Liam Williams, I have got to get myself in a position where he is thinking this fight makes sense for him. Because at the minute, it doesn’t for him. So I have to get my name in that position and get the public talking about it make it a reality.
‘It is more risk than reward for him, let’s be real. I am under no illusions how the game works and how it goes. We have to keep pushing it. Once the boxing public put two names together, that’s it, the fight is almost made. So we have to get that demand high.’
Sheeraz and Williams were originally scheduled to meet on 10 December. The Slough fighter, who relocated to Los Angeles to work under Ricky Funez three years ago, suffered a perforated ear drum in the lead-up to that date, forcing it to be pushed back three months.
While Sheeraz is on the ascent to fighting elite names, Williams has already been there. The ferocious Welshman fought Liam Smith in back-to-back fights in 2017 and 2018, challenged Demetrius Andrade for the WBO world title in 2021 and tangled with Eubank Jr himself in 2022. He went the distance in each of those contests but ultimately, they were a step too far, losing all four of them.
‘Liam’s going in one way, I’m going another,’ Sheeraz continued. ‘It is nothing new, every one of my fights has been must-win. If he wins he is right back in the mix for another world title shot. If I win, it catapults me up the middleweight division.’
The middleweight division is somewhat of an open shop in terms of star power. Alimkhanuly holds the WBO and IBF belts with veteran Erislandy Lara in possession of the WBA title. WBC champion Jermall Charlo has not defended his WBC belt since 2021. With the legendary Gennady Golovkin semi-retired, the division lacks a truly established name.
‘It’s one of those divisions where everything is a bit up in the air, no one is actually dominating, no one is actually putting these big performances that are getting everyone talking about the division,’ Sheeraz said. ‘In that respect, it is there for the taking. I just have to take it step by step.’
Last year, Sheeraz was on collision course with fellow Frank Warren middleweight Denzel Bentley. But the Battersea fighter’s shock defeat to Nathan Heaney in November shelved those plans for the foreseeable future.
‘Winning this fight against Liam opens loads of doors. Of course world level but even domestically, there are still huge fights to be made,’ he said.
‘[The Bentley fight] is different now, he needs to rebuild himself a bit. I am sure he will do that. But Nathan is the name now, the British champion. Denzel has to build himself up again for that fight to take place, Nathan and Eubank Jr are certainly ahead of him now.’
Sheeraz believes more dazzling knockouts will be his best hope of securing a fight against someone of Eubank Jr’s profile, hoping his show-stopping performances could also earn him an invite out to Saudi Arabia this year.
Saudi staged the biggest shows in the sport at the end of 2023 with Anthony Joshua vs Francis Ngannou taking place March and the rescheduled undisputed showdown between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk to follow in May.
While those first few cards were exclusively for the big men, smaller weight classes are now part of the plans with Sheeraz confident his promoter can deliver for him.
‘Frank has wiped everyone out. He is the guy! I have got to keep doing what I’m doing and then hopefully the offers to fight in Saudi or fight elsewhere will come to me. I’m racking up those KOS, if I can become that knockout artist then people want you fighting in their country.
‘I think will see more weights in Saudi. I have got plenty of time on my side. All I can do is keep winning and improving and who knows, before long I could be at the top of cards out there.’