BILAL Akkawy is out to make a name for himself in America.
The big-punching super middleweight from Sydney has been plying his trade in recent weeks alongside Mexican middleweight superstar Canelo Alvarez and the talent that the 25-year-old Aussie possesses hasn’t gone unnoticed by Canelo’s team.
First hired as a sparring partner back in March of this year for Canelo’s highly anticipated rematch with Gennady Golovkin, Akkawy impressed the Canelo team enough to earn an invite back to train alongside the Mexican champion.
But not only does Akkawy get to learn from one of the best in the game, he’s also earned himself an American debut with Golden Boy Promotions in Las Vegas.
“Eddy Reynoso (Canelo’s trainer) had seen a bit of footage and wanted to bring me over for sparring and they liked what they saw,” Akkawy told Aus-Boxing.
“The first fight got cancelled so they brought me back for the second fight and from there they pushed for me to get a fight in the U.S.”
Akkawy (17-0-1, 14 KOs) is one of Australia’s best kept secrets. His record is an impressive one, but it’s the manner in which Akkawy goes about his work that is most impressive.
His fourteen knockouts are testament to his raw power but that’s not the only thing that Eddy Reynoso found impressive about the young Sydney-sider.
“He liked my speed, and when I decide to box he liked that too,” says Akkawy.
“Most of the time I like to tee off, use my power but he just basically said I have a lot of talent.”
That talent will be on display this week when Akkawy makes his US debut against Mexican Cristian Olivas but finding an opponent proved to be a tough proposition for the Aussie. The risk often outweighed the reward when fighting a relative unknown who punches like a heavyweight.
“It’s been a bit tough to get an opponent,” Akkawy said.
“I heard they approached Marco Antonio Periban but he declined.
“There was also Marcos Reyes and he also declined it, so they came back with Cristian Olivas and it looks like we will be fighting him but I’m just happy to get the fight to be honest.”
With an opponent now confirmed it’s up to Akkawy to display that ferocity which has brought him to this point in his career.
He’s well aware of the exposure that will come his way should he impress against Olivas and it’s for this reason that Akkawy has decided to jump at this opportunity, one that would be unlikely if he had stayed in Australia.
“You know how it is in Australia, we don’t get that much exposure,” he says.
The sport’s not that big whereas over here you can really see that it’s an industry.
“People make money out of it, make a living and they’re comfortable and you get the exposure and can make something for yourself.”
The realisation that America offers much more opportunity for a young fighter like Akkawy truly dawned on him when he was at the cinema, of all places.
“I was at the movies the other day and Golovkin and Canelo popped up on the screen in an advert and I was amazed,” he says.
“In Australia you’d never see an ad for a fight pop up on the screen.”
Akkawy might well be light years away from the fame and fortune that Canelo and Golovkin have attained but there’s no doubting that his time spent with Canelo and both Eddy and ‘Chepo’ Reynoso has him firmly placed to work his way toward some much-needed exposure in the sport and a shot at world honours in the future.
Bilal Akkawy’s US debut against Cristian Olivas will be broadcast live on ESPN from 10.00am EST on Friday morning.
Words: Dan Attias/Follow Dan on Twitter