Lim Jeka talks Ibrahim Balla training camp, bridging the gap

IF anyone could truly understand the potential that Ibrahim Balla possesses, it would be Lim Jeka.

The 43-year-old Albania native, who once reigned as the Australian light middleweight champion, has trained the hard-hitting former Olympian and now undefeated professional since ditching his amateur vest in 2013.

We caught up with the regarded Melbourne-based trainer to gather his thoughts on his fighters latest training camp ahead of Balla’s WBO affiliated regional title fight against Neil John Tabanao on Saturday night.

“We really want to get him in a position where he is in the top fifteen in the world,” said Jeka to Aus-Boxing.

“I really want him to develop for this and work his way up the ladder. The ultimate goal is a world title shot.”

Under Jeka’s astute tutelage, the Werribee-based Balla (9-0, 6 KOs) has looked relatively unchallenged, winning a state title and two national straps in as many divisions, an accomplishment that Jeka clearly takes great pride in.

With Balla being unchallenged in his reign as Australian champion, Jeka believes it’s time to move forward.

“It’s a big achievement to win an Australian title,” he elaborated. “It’s a great honour – but once you have won it – you move on. You let someone else have an opportunity to win it. You don’t need to hang on to it.”

“Now we need to hit the world stage and we need to chip away at it. We need to start beating fighters internationally and work our way into the title picture and to earn a shot in the next couple of years.”

“We have had a few hiccups along the way and that has set him back a little bit,” he added. “But right now he is firing on all cylinders. So now it’s time to move, we need to take these opportunities,”

“We need to start fighting higher ranked fighters and get to fight on that world stage.”

From the perspective of both a trainer and mentor, Jeka has noted a lift in both Balla’s intensity since returning from a trip to Vegas last month, where the Hosking Promotions team saw Amir Khan challenge Canelo Alvarez.

It was there where the 25-year-old realised that he has the tools to potentially go all the way.

“Since he has been back from his trip in Las Vegas, I’ve seen a massive difference in him,” he concluded.

“He understands now what the big league is all about. He said that when you see these guys on TV they look bigger and it all looks more glamorous. But he really saw that these guys don’t do anything that we don’t do,”

“He has a real belief now that he can beat these quality guys. Those guys aren’t supermen,”

“They work hard at what they do and in the end they are just normal guys.”

Photo: Louie Abigail/Photography by Rockfingrz



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