Jayde Mitchell on Les Sherrington, potential Bilal Akkawy fight

A stacked super middleweight division isn’t going to stop unified regional titleholder Jayde Mitchell from seeking the biggest fights available.

The popular Peninusla-based product is in the final stages of his preparation to face durable divisional gatekeeper Les Sherrington on Saturday night as the feature attraction of Hosking Promotions latest event at the Melbourne Park sporting precinct.

In the midst of an impressive six-fight win streak, Mitchell (11-1, 5 KOs) is looking to pick up his 2017 campaign where he left off last year.

“My biggest highlight of last year was going into the backyard of Shintaro Matsumoto and taking the OPBF title off him, it doesn’t get any better than that,” said Mitchell to Aus-Boxing. “I got myself three regional straps and I defended one of them against a champion in Nader Hamdan.”

“The year just went from strength to strength.”

“I just made my mind up at the start of last year that this was what I wanted to do full-time. I felt I continued to improve each fight – and I just stepped it up at the right time – it was just a dream come true last year.”

“I had six fights last year. But it’s not so much about the fights, it’s getting ready for fights. It’s hard work, but as long as the body is holding up okay, I’ll continue to do it. Since I’ve been able to put the time into it I’m becoming a better athlete.”

“Everything I feel is getting better. Now that I get to put as much time as I can into training and covering all bases, injuries are a thing of the past.”

On Saturday night, Mitchell will be challenged for his interim WBA Oceania bauble by Les Sherrington (35-9, 19 KOs), a fighter who has faced a murderers row of super middleweights for the best part of a decade.

When quizzed on his thoughts on the crossroads matchup, the 31-year-old Mitchell was his typical self, heaping praise on the current form of his Gold Coast-based rival.

“We are jumping right out of the gates against Sherrington,” he added. “From what I’ve heard, he is in awesome form at the moment. He is very fit and taking this fight very seriously.”

“I know he has taken fights in the past against top-level opposition on short notice, but for this fight, I know he is coming prepared. I’m meant to be fighting four-and-a-half weeks later, but that’s the last thing on my mind at the moment.”

“However, that’s the plan as I want to stay busy – I started boxing later than most professionals – I need to get my numbers up and fight quality guys so I can be ready to take the next step in my career.”

“I want to become a better all-round athlete this year. I want to fight quality fighters and in 2018 I want to be ready to make a run at a world title. That’s what this year is about.”

Sherrington, 34, will be the second veteran that Mitchell has fought in recent times. The reigning OPBF super middleweight champion scored a career-best win over seasoned former world title challenger Nader Hamdan last July. As Mitchell openly admits, the looming date with Sherrington is similar to the aforementioned meeting with Hamdan, which was all about timing.

“This fight is the perfect fight at the perfect time – no matter what happens – I know I’ll be learning in this fight,” he said. “I could have taken a much easier fight than Les. He is going to come out every single round to test me. If I slack off at all, I’m in for some trouble. He is going to push me every second of every round and I know I’m going to have to earn it on fight night.”

“I know I have to do what I do best and that’s hit and not get hit. That’s all there is to it. It sounds easier than it is, but Les has been around. I’m just ready to work in every round.”

If Mitchell is able to fend off the capable Sherrington this weekend, the Victorian has one eye on a potential matchup with hard-hitting prospect Bilal Akkawy, who appears to be on a collision course with Mitchell.

“The interim to my OPBF title is Bilal Akkawy and I am the interim titleholder to his WBA Oceania title,” he quipped. “Bilal is very young and we are both at different points in our career.”

“However, we are running parallel to each other through our careers and it’s definitely a fight I’m open to. But I understand that I have everything to gain from a fight with him. If the fight doesn’t happen, well it doesn’t happen. But I’m available and more than willing. For me, the fight makes sense.”

To his credit, Mitchell refuses to look past Sherrington and expects to have his hands full on Saturday night.

“I don’t want to reach people’s expectations; I want to exceed them,” he concluded. “Fighting a champion as seasoned as Sherrington means a lot to me and this is why I box. I want to step up and I want to fulfil people’s expectations.”

“Styles make fights and I’m expecting a real battle of attrition. It’s going to be a really exciting fight.”

Photo: Justin Gan/East End Boxing