Sheffield boxer Adam Etches challenges for his first professional title tonight and believes his growing fan base will soon have him headlining arena shows.
The 22-year-old unbeaten Steel City fighter takes on Belarusian Andrei Abramenka at the city’s Ponds Forge with the International Boxing Federation (IBF) youth middleweight crown up for grabs to the winner.
While Etches is clearly developing into a quality boxer in the ring, it is his pulling power when it comes to ticket sales which is equally impressive with all 2,000 seats for tonight’s event sold out over a month ago.
Now Etches – nicknamed ‘The Bomber’ – believes if he continues his rapid rise in popularity, the next step is a headline slot at Sheffield’s 12,000 capacity Motorpoint Arena.
“I’d like to think after a couple more of these type of shows, my fan base will have grown so much the Arena is the only place I can box at,” said Etches.
“It’s all about building upwards, everyone enjoying it and me doing a good job in the ring. Afterwards everything will fall into place. That said, filling Ponds Forge is something in itself. I don’t think there’s many boxers at my sort of level who’d be able to do that.”
Abramenka represents a significant step up in class for the Yorkshireman, who turned professional two years ago.
The Belarusian stylist has won 18 of 22 contests and has gone the full 12-round distance with former European welterweight champion Matthew Hatton and highly-rated Russian prospect Aslanbek Kozaev.
Etches said: “I’ve got to be on my game because Abramenka’s young, he’s hungry and he’s only lost twice on points after 20-odd fights.
“I’ve watched clips of him on You Tube and I saw him when he boxed Matthew Hatton, but I tend not to look too much into it because it’ll be a different Abramenka when he fights me.
“I’m expecting a tough fight and I’m training like it’s for a full world title.”
Also in action tonight will be fellow unbeaten local prospects Scott Jenkins, Atif Shafiq, Sam O’Maison, Kris Davey, Leigh Wood, Josh McLaren and Andy Keates.
Tonight is the first of two big Saturday night fight nights in Sheffield in April, with Amir Khan’s return against Julio Diaz headlining at the Motorpoint Arena on April 27.
On the undercard is 2000 Olympic gold medallist Audley Harrison, who faces Deontay Wilder, a rising star on the American heavyweight scene and who has shown his phenomenal punching prowess by blasting his way past all of his opponents.
“Deontay is a fast, dangerous puncher, but he has not been tested as a pro,” said Harrison.
“I have lot of respect for him, so it’s not personal, but this is the door I must walk through. Lose and it’s over, win and I’m in the top 10 for sure, eligible to challenge for the world title. Biggest risk, for the biggest reward. It can’t get any better than that.”
Dewsbury’s former British champion Gary Sykes (23-3, 5 KOs) puts his English super-featherweight crown on the line against Manchester’s Jon Kays (16-2-1, 4 KOs) in a 10-round fight.
“John Kays is a good fighter so I will need to be at my best,” said 29-year-old Sykes.
“I know what to expect, but I’m confident and believe that my experience is going to help me. I’m coming off of a good winning streak and hope to put myself back into the mix for a British title shot by winning.
“I’m focused and am ready for this fight. I’m not giving up my English title to anyone.”
Also appearing on the show will be 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Anthony Ogogo, of Lowestoft, making his professional debut against Telford’s Kieron Gray in a six-round middleweight fight.
Poland’s Tomasz Mazurkiewicz comes up against Doncaster’s Adam Jones in a four-round junior middleweight fight, and fellow Doncaster boxer Carl Spencer features in a four-round heavyweight bout.