Home comforts give Harris Akbar warm glow ahead of title bout

Bradford's Harris Akbar defends his GB Boxing Championship title in Sheffield tonight, with the warm embrace of the Yorkshire crowd giving him an extra incentive.

Bradford boxer Harris Akbar at the EIS in Sheffield (Pictures: Steve Ellis)
Bradford boxer Harris Akbar at the EIS in Sheffield (Pictures: Steve Ellis)

The 19-year-old has fought in more than 130 amateur contests across the globe, winning medals at Commonwealth and European Youth level.

But for him, nothing beats fighting in front of home fans at the English Institute of Sport.

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And the fact that tonight’s 12-bout card at the national championships takes place in the main auditorium which is situated just across the corridor from where he trains every day with the GB Boxing Academy, is a welcome tonic.

“Boxing internationally, everyone’s booing, everyone’s against you,” says Akbar, who meets Scotland’s Stephen Newns for the 69kg welterweight title.

“So when you then walk in here and the atmosphere livens up, it’s great knowing everyone is here to support you.

“It was an unreal lift for me when I won the title last year, the atmosphere was great, and it felt really good to box at home. It’s such a great little venue.

“I’m hoping for the same again tonight and that I can just go in and get the business done.”

Bradford boxer Harris Akbar at the EIS in Sheffield (Pictures: Steve Ellis)

Akbar, who is on GB’s podium potential programme, is the only Yorkshire fighter in action tonight. The competition, which features six women’s bouts and six for the men, will see the winners of this year’s GB Elite Three Nations competition take-on a boxer from the GB Boxing squad to identify the GB Boxing champion for 2018.

Doors open at 6.30pm with boxing starting at 7.30pm. Tickets are on sale priced £10 at www.ticketsdirect.org.uk/gbchamps. Groups who purchase ten tickets will receive two free tickets.

Deontay Wilder has called for a rematch with Tyson Fury to be held “ASAP” and scorned a challenge by Anthony Joshua.

The American heavyweight said he does not want to fight anyone else before returning to the ring to face the Gypsy King 

The pair’s WBC heavyweight title fight in Las Vegas last Saturday ended in a controversial draw, with Fury’s camp claiming he should have won despite Wilder flooring him twice.

“I’m ready whenever he’s ready to do it. I’m ready to give the fans what they want to see and end this talk once and for all,” said Wilder.