A well-travelled professional career across Europe earned Kerry Hope a short reign as European middleweight champion.
Furthermore, the relocated Welshman (23-9, 2 KOs) established a reputation as a gritty road warrior that would more often than not give prospects their first legitimate test in the paid ranks. Enter Bilal Akkawy, a hard-hitting pugilist who carried a reputation as a pure puncher, albeit an unproven one.
Seven hellacious rounds later, the Sydney-based Akkawy had made the first successful defence of his WBA affiliated regional bauble, and Kerry Hope had just fought for the final time as a professional after suffering a broken jaw and fighting with several dislodged teeth.
A frenzied second round arguably stands out as the highlight of the fight, with Akkawy and Hope taking turns against the ropes. It was primarily Akkawy on the attack – looking to slow the momentum of his Welsh counterpart with body shots – while Hope effectively counter-punched in-between their epic exchanges.
Hindsight is often 20/20, especially in boxing, but as Akkawy (14-0-1, 12 KOs) aptly predicted, he did indeed have the power to hurt Hope.
“I believe that if I hit anybody clean, I will hurt them,” said Akkawy in a pre-fight interview with Aus-Boxing. “Whether I knock them out or not; I don’t know. It really doesn’t matter because we always prepare for the distance of the full fight.”
“I dream of climbing to the elite levels of boxing and one day fighting the very best in the world in my division. I’m now at a point in my career where I am ready to fight anybody that my management places in front of me as I know it will be pushing me in the direction of accomplishing my dream.”
With the win, Akkawy established himself as of the best gunslingers in his division as anticipation continues to build towards an eventual fight with unified regional titleholder Jayde Mitchell.
2014: Waylon Law vs. Nathaniel May
2015: Jack Asis vs. Kye MacKenzie
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Photo: Peter McDermott