It was the test that Hamzah Sheeraz needed to prove to the masses—and perhaps to himself—that his talents are for real.
The unbeaten junior middleweight remained perfect in the pros, scoring a 6th round knockout of countryman and local prospect Ryan Kelly in their regional title fight Saturday evening at Arena Birmingham in Birmingham, England.
Sheeraz scored floored Kelly late in round six, with a subsequent barrage of punches forcing the stoppage at 2:58 of that same round.
Plenty of buzz has surrounded Sheeraz’s career, but sorely lacking was a win on which the 20-year old could point to as commanding attention as a prospect to watch. Birmingham’s Kelly (14-3, 7KOs) has been in with stiff competition, including a stunning 1st round knockout of previously unbeaten Kelcie Ball last September and a respectable showing in a points loss to undefeated McKinson this past March.
Sheeraz (10-0, 6KOs) treated the fight with the same respect he’d previously extended to his opponent, boxing smartly and looking to create openings to intensify his attack. It led to his being extended beyond the 4th round for the first time in his career, though never losing focus or expressing concern that the fight wouldn’t go as planned.
“We had 10 rounds to get the job done,” Sheeraz said after the win, his fourth of the year.
He would only need six to end the night. A perfectly thrown right hand forced Kelly to the canvas late in round six. The Birmingham boxer beat the count but found himself under siege, at which point the contest was waved off just prior to the bell to end the round.
The early ending gives Sheeraz his fourth consecutive knockout, with all five previous stoppages coming in two rounds or less.
The bout aired live on BT Sport in the United Kingdom and ESPN+ in the United States, in supporting capacity to Johnriel Casimero’s bantamweight title winning knockout over Zolani Tete.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox