Friendship set aside as Amir prepares to defend his title

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By David Statham

SLEAFORD’S boxing champion Amir Unsworth is finally set to get punching again and defend his title.

Since lifting the Midlands Area belt over 18 months ago, the Heckington-based lightweight has been left disappointed as numerous title challengers have pulled out of arranged fights with various injuries and illnesses.

But this time there will be no such excuses- Amir is fighting one of his gym mates!

Both managed by Newark-based promoter Carl Greaves, Amir said friendship with opponent Kev Hooper is being put aside as they prepare for battle at the Beachcomber Club in Cleethorpes on October 19.

Amir said: “Kev’s a gym mate and a friend and we’ll definitely shake hands after the fight, but this is a serious business and I’m focussed on winning.”

Grimsby’s ‘Super’ Hooper, a title-holder unbeaten after 12 fights, has also smashed aside any notion of friendship, instead initiating a war of words.

Amir explained: “I’ve read a few reports and he’s said because we’ve sparred together in training he knows it’s going to be an easy victory and he’s going to out box me and may stop me inside the distance. But believe me, being in the ring on fight night, wearing eight ounce gloves and no headguard, it’s completely different to sparring.

“But it doesn’t matter, I’m happy with him trash-talking because it just gives me more motivation to go out there and beat him.”

Set to compete in his 20th professional bout, Amir has a decided advantage over Hooper in experience, and the serving soldier of regiment 1 Mercian, already into a gruelling 12-week training camp, remarked past encounters with top contenders, such as former British champion Derry Mathews, will help him consolidate his position as the region’s leading lightweight fighter.

He added: “Kev’s never fought anybody as strong as me and this time I’m stronger than I’ve ever been. I’ve got brilliant sparring lined-up with future British title challenger Steve Williams and three-time amateur champion Martin Stead.

“I’m putting absolutely everything on the line for this fight. Whoever wins gets to challenge for the English title and it’s my dream to fight for it again. Kev’s standing in my way and I’m going to give him his first defeat.

“I lost my unbeaten record in front of my own fans in Sleaford and now he’s going to lose his in front of his own support.”

Tickets for the showdown are available from the New Image Gym, Gorgeous Tanning Shop in Sleaford, or direct from Amir on 07909 227284.