MUHAMMAD ALI CANNOT wait for the chance to unleash his formidable brand of featherweight fisticuffs on his rivals when he gets to make his return to the ring in the near future.
The 2016 Olympian and one of Britain’s Blue Chip prospects made his professional debut back in February, shortly before the trading of punches ceased due to lockdown.
His opening night didn’t pan out quite as he imagined because, in front of some 250 of his fans from Bradford at York Hall, his opponent Stefan Sashev did little else other than spoil and hold. The patience of referee Lee Every ran out just over half way through the second round and the Bulgarian was sent packing back to the dressing room.
Since this time, Ali has linked up with respected trainer and long-standing WBU middleweight champion Anthony ‘Arnie’ Farnell in Manchester to further his professional development.
“I’ve known Arnie since I was a youth and I sparred one of his boxers,” explained the 24-year-old. “We just kept in touch and I thought he was the right man for me. He is passionate about the sport and we get on well together.
“He was an aggressive fighter and I am the same. He is tweaking me up a little bit, but not changing me too much, more adding to what I’ve already got,” continued Ali, before looking back to his eventful debut.
“I hit the kid early on and after that he just wanted to grab on. It spoiled my debut a bit but I feel I will get the chance to shine as the opposition gets better. It will suit me more when they fight back and come to win.
“I will just take each fight as it comes, as long as I win, then you’ve just got to put each one to bed and not dwell on it too much.”
What the former storied amateur, with his ripped featherweight frame, does struggle to comprehend is how an earth he campaigned at flyweight in the vested code of the sport.
“I just don’t know!” he conceded. “I think back now and I cannot make sense of it with me weighing five kilos more. I was broken, I struggled and in my head day after day was just about making weight.
“Nobody could ever tell I was so drained because in my fights I was so aggressive. I’ve still got four or five kilos to lose to make featherweight, but it is mostly water so it comes off quite easily.”
What quickly becomes obvious with any footage featuring the feisty featherweight is that he enters the ring with destruction on his mind and he will be a lot of fun to watch as he closes in on the big fights and beyond.
In his own opinion, it is what fight fans want to see.
“It is one hundred per cent my style, to set about everyone from the first bell. It is like (Amir) Khan when he was younger; everybody loved him because you wouldn’t know if he would get caught himself or hit someone with a ten-shot combo.
“They didn’t know what would happen next, it was always exciting and people always tuned in. With me it will be similar because I will always be on my opponent and people will love it.”
Khan, of course, at times was considered vulnerable to return fire and this is something Ali hopes he does not share with the Bolton favourite.
“I f**cking hope not!” he retorted in jest. “Nothing has gone wrong yet so hopefully it won’t any time soon.”