VETERAN Sydney promoter Paul Nasari knows a big fight when he sees one.
The face of leading Sydney promotional firm Neutral Corner Fight Promotions is battling to contain his excitement ahead of the high-stakes super middleweight showdown his company has assembled between undefeated dynamo Bilal Akkawy and former WBA super middleweight titleholder Giovanni De Carolis on Saturday night.
Over a ten year promotional tenure, the 50-year-old Nasari – who also boxed professionally – has worked exclusively out of the south-western Sydney region, promoting events in Punchbowl and neighboring Revesby. Saturday’s three fight professional card has proven to be no different, with local venue Club Punchbowl hosting the highly anticipated regional title fight.
“I’m relieved it’s only days away now,” said Nasari in an interview with Aus-Boxing. “All the negotiations have gone smoothly. Working with the Akkawy’s is great, they’re such good people, the Italians have been very professional as well.”
“This would have to be the biggest promotion by far for me. I’ve done shows at Sydney Olympic Park (Ogilvie vs. Foley) and the recent card at The Star was also a big show,” he continued. “This fight is big for everybody involved – and the fight by itself – for Akkawy and De Carolis is bigger. I think this is a more difficult fight than Bilal than what he had with Kerry Hope.”
Akkawy (16-0-1, 14 KOs) will be looking to make the first defence in his second reign as the WBA Oceania super middleweight titleholder, having been stripped of the regional bauble following the twelve months of inactivity that was sandwiched in between his career-best win over Kerry Hope and his subsequent return fight against Carlos Adan Jerez.
— Paul Nasari (@PaulNasari) February 10, 2018
Despite his injured-forced stints on the sidelines, Nasari is adamant that the 24-year-old will begin his ascension towards the biggest names in the division, starting with De Carolis (25-8-1, 13 KOs), who held the WBA throne until the Italian was dethroned by Tyron Zeuge in Germany fifteen months ago.
“Mark my words, Bilal Akkawy is about to take the world by storm,” Nasari vowed. “As for Giovanni, he’s travelled at his own expense to get here two weeks before the fight, he means business. A lot of fighters arrive 48 to 72 hours before fight time, but Giovanni’s here two weeks before the fight.”
“He’s here with his two trainers, and he’s also flown in his personal Physiotherapist and his Strength and Conditioning coach. In total, he’s had 14 weeks to prepare for Bilal and has used his time wisely. He has a lot of fans here, my phone hasn’t stopped with calls from Italians wanting tickets.”
“This is going to be a great fight. Bilal is looking good and so is Giovanni, from what I’ve seen of him in the gym. All the Australian boxing fans should get to Club Punchbowl, cause you’re going to see one hell of a fight.”
Given the hands-on nature that comes with putting together an event, most promoters develop relationships with their fighters and respective teams. But in the case of Nasari and the Akkawy’s, this project has been years in the making – particularly with the Akkawy family – who have groomed Bilal for stardom in the paid ranks, years before he turned professional.
“We go back a long way both me and Bilal’s father, Mick.” Nasari concluded. “We both fought at the same time as amateurs back in the eighties and have had a good relationship since. Al Akkawy, who manages Bilal, also has a great relationship with me, especially with everything does behind-the-scenes. He’s been working on his nephew’s career ever since he laced on a glove.”
“They have always believed in his ability and the power he possesses.”
The fight will be live streamed via Epicentre TV. For more information please click here.
Photo: Louie Abigail