Sheeraz wants Williams or Heaney on undercard of Beterbiev-Bivol

Hamzah Sheeraz hopes to feature on the undercard of Artur Beterbiev-Dmitrii Bivol, which is nearing completion for June 1.

He excelled on Saturday at London’s Copper Box Arena when defending his Commonwealth middleweight title by stopping Liam Williams inside a round.

The 31-year-old Williams had been knocked down by first a jab and then an uppercut when, while under increasing pressure and hurt, his trainer Gary Lockett threw in the towel.

Sheeraz will observe Ramadan from March 10 until April 9, then return to Los Angeles to resume working under his trainer Ricky Funez at the TenGoose Boxing Club in preparation for the date he is targeting on the same evening as the undisputed light heavyweight title fight that is expected to be one of the contests of the year.

“Hopefully I can get out on that Saudi [Arabia] card – straight on that undercard,” the 24 year old said. “That lines me up for June. ‘Ammo’ [Austin] Williams is being linked and it’d be a big fight, I think.

“It’s a dream of mine – a recent dream of mine [to fight in Saudi Arabia]. Especially everything being set up there and being a Muslim as well. It only makes sense, and it’d be great to fight out there – especially in front of the boxing royalty. The day after [Ramadan] I’ll be straight back out to LA.

“I need to start hunting these guys [like Chris Eubank Jr] down. Even if he just starts to take notice now, that’s better than nothing. I know he’s chasing money now. There’s bigger money fights out there for him, but if he’s got a figure, I’m sure Frank can sort something out.

“The Nathan Heaney fight is a very realistic fight as well. That’s a fight I’d love to have. Doors will be open [after the victory over Williams]. It’d be an honour [to fight him in Stoke]. I know it’d be a very hostile environment but I know it’d add that fuel to my fire. I’m looking forward to getting back in there again.”

Their promoter Frank Warren had compared him, in the aftermath of victory, with the great Tommy Hearns. 

The nature of victory and identity of his opponent represented the biggest statement of Sheeraz’s promising career – Sheeraz was among the many expecting Williams, of Wales, to provide him with a significant test.

“I was expecting rounds,” he continued. “Especially when he came out first round, I kind of blocked a few of his shots, and in the back of my head I thought, ‘We’re gonna have it – we’re gonna be here for a while’, but as soon as I landed that jab I could see it in his eyes, it was all over. It’s paying off – all that hard work in LA – and I’ve got to keep developing.

“I honestly thought he was going to be the guy to give me rounds – give me a good six-to-10 rounds and I’ll get him out of there in the end, but that wasn’t the case. I always prepare for 12 rounds anyway. I know there’s nothing like getting the fight experience. 

“It’s an honour to even have my name in the same sentence as [Hearns]. I’ve still got to live up to the name – win world titles; unify divisions. Once I’ve done that, maybe I’ll start to believe it as well.”

Asked if he expected Williams to retire, Warren responded: “When you get beat in a fashion like that – he’s not a young man, is he? He’s had a great career. Very unlucky not to win a world title. He had some great nights down in Wales. That’s got to be his shout but I don’t see it. He’s not lost like that [previously].

“[Sheeraz is] Britain’s Tommy Hearns. He’s got the most magnificent jab. He’s strong; he can punch; he’s so cool and calm in the ring, and the way he uses the ring… Nobody’s done that to Liam Williams. Nobody. Nobody said that was gonna happen – be a one-rounder.

“He’s got a good trainer. Ricky does a great job and they gel well. He’s a good fighter – that’s why we signed him. Remember – he’s not one of those fighters who’s come through the Olympic squad; all that podium nonsense. None of that. They’re hungry fighters; he’s shown what he’s all about.”