FROM the first day he laced a pair of gloves, Bilal Akkawy’s family have been grooming him for success.
The humble and softly spoken 24-year-old will be given the opportunity to fulfill the prophecy of those around him when he tackles Italian veteran and former WBA super middleweight ruler Giovanni De Carolis (25-8-1, 13 KOs) in the first defence of his WBA Oceania regional bauble at Club Punchbowl on Saturday night for Neutral Corner Promotions.
With a limited amateur background, the hard-hitting Peakhurst resident has undertaken a steady maturation process, which has led to a career-defining fight in his backyard with the potential support of NSW Sports Minister Stuart Ayres, who has been invited to attend the crossroads fight by Akkawy’s team in South Western Sydney, with the intent of securing the prospective backing of the State Government for future high-profile fights.
Akkawy (16-0-1, 14 KOs), who also boasts a marquee win over former European middleweight champion Kerry Hope, is looking to secure the valuable scalp of De Carolis, as he attempts to infiltrate a stacked list of credentialed contenders – which currently includes the WBA #15 rated Jayde Mitchell – all vying for the opportunity to challenge one of the WBA’s two world titleholders.
The organisation’s super title is presently held by divisional leader George Groves, who defeated English rival Chris Eubank Jr. last weekend, while their secondary regular title is hosted by Germany’s Tyron Zeuge, who ironically dethroned De Carolis last July to secure his world champion status following a closely contested draw in their first of two meetings.
— Bilal Akkawy (@BilalAkkawy) February 18, 2018
“It’s important to me to beat every opponent, I’ll always go out there and do my best,” said Akkawy in an interview with Aus-Boxing. “With that being done, I’ll have satisfaction in my performance despite whatever the outcome may be. I see that Giovanni has a high work rate and I see his fitness as his biggest strength as well as good footwork,”
For this fight, Akkawy brought in former Australian super middleweight champion Jake Carr to help prepare for the energetic and active style of De Carolis, who is known for his high pressure work-rate. Akkawy sees the plethora of rounds shared with Carr (16-1, 6 KOs) at Carlton’s Hardcore Gym as a good simulation for the tireless pace he expects De Carolis to offer on Saturday night.
“We’ve had some very good spars in the weeks that we’ve worked together,” continued Akkawy. “He was a great help in sparring as he has such a high workrate just like De Carolis. My greatest strength is my power, I definitely hit harder than most fighters. Once you get hit hard, it’s pretty debilitating.”
In his previously mentioned tussle with Kerry Hope, which was given Fight of the Year honours in 2016, Akkawy showed a fighting spirit and determination unlike anything he’d previously offered in his seven year long professional career. It is that same mentality that Akkawy believes will lead him to his seventeenth professional win, in the biggest fight of his career to date.
“My fight against Kerry Hope has really helped me grow in confidence and my self belief too,” he concluded. “To become a champion in boxing, you really need to have that extra drive – you really have to have that fighting spirit – you can’t give up.”
“A victory over Giovanni would be a great achievement, the biggest to date.”
The fight will be live streamed via Epicentre TV. For more information please click here.
Photo: Marty Camilleri/Marty’s Knockout Photography