Undefeated Fulham prizefighter Zak Chelli is on his way to Wembley for the biggest fight of his career.
After just six pro bouts, the 21-year-old contender will fight for the vacant Southern Area super-middleweight title on Saturday night (27 April) at Wembley Arena.
His opponent, Jimmy Smith, is the man standing in the way of Chelli realising a childhood dream.
“This is what I’ve been working for since I took up boxing at the age of five,” said Chelli.
“I hope this is the first of many titles. I want to show the boxing world that I am the real deal. Jimmy Smith is a tough opponent but I plan on knocking him out come Saturday night.”
The hands of stone Chelli is coming off the back of a first-round victory over Ladislav Nemeth in March.
After taking just one minute to dispose of Nemeth, the Fulham boxer was back in the gym the very next day doing his regular 20 rounds of sparring routine.
“As well as sparring with fellow pros, I regularly do an hour and a half of non-stop sparring with six amateurs at a couple of local gyms. They really go for it and try to knock you now,” added Chelli.
Talking of sparring, Chelli has shared the ring in sessions with the likes of IBO super-middleweight champion Chris Eubank Jr and former world titleholders, George Groves and James DeGale, who have both recently hung up their gloves.
“I understood from those sessions that I had what it took to be a pro fighter and challenge for titles,” added Chelli.
“I hope the Southern Area belt is the first of many titles. I cannot wait to get in the ring and put on a show at Wembley Arena. The time for talking is now over.”
The 12-stone pugilist will have his father, Zak Snr (a former pro fighter himself), in his corner come fight night as he plots his way up the domestic rankings in the super-middleweight division.
A journey the pair began together when Zak was just five years old.
“My dad has been training me every day since I was a little kid. I used to run back home from primary school and my dad would cycle along the 5k-route shouting ‘Come on champ’,” explained Chelli.
“He was a national champion in Tunisia and Italy. I now hope to make it to the top with my father by my side every step of the way.”
Keep up-to-date with our local champion’s exploits on Zak's Twitter account @ZakChelli.
Local boxing gyms
If you’re interested in trying your hand at boxing, here are a few local options.
- Hammersmith Boxing Academy at Ealing, Hammersmith & West London College in Gliddon Road run boxing sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7pm to 8.30pm and Saturdays at 11am to 1pm.
- Hurlingham Boxing Club in Peterborough Road have classes on Mondays and Wednesdays from 6.30pm to 8pm.
- State of the Mind Fitness in Galena Road has a host of boxing classes – details are on their website.
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