Rashid 'The Dream' Kassem (11-0, 7 KOs) faces his toughest career test when he takes on Britain’s Joe Murray (17-2, 7 KOs) on October 15 at the Arena Nord in Frederikshavn.
Murray, the 29 year-old from Manchester, England, is a former amateur star who won a Bronze medal at the 2007 World Amateur Championships in Chicago and competed at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
As a professional, his only losses have come at the hands of the undefeated Liam Walsh, whose twin brother Ryan meets Dennis Ceylan for the European Featherweight title on the same night.
Kassem, who is undefeated in his eleven professional contests, believes he is ready for the step up in class, and is eager to prove his potential.
‘’I’m looking forward to getting back in the ring,’’ said the 25 year-old, who returns following a unanimous points victory over Vincenzo Finiello in March.
‘’I want to push myself and prove I can be the best, and this fight with Murray, will be a big step forward for me. It will definitely be my toughest fight, but I know where I stand and I know what I can do, and I believe it will be his toughest fight too.
‘’He may call himself the ‘Genius’, but I’m sure that I’m the smarter boxer. He has a good record list and a good amateur career, but to me, he’s just another opponent who will give me the opportunity to prove how good I am!’’
‘’This is going to be a big step up for Rashid,’’ said promoter Nisse Sauerland.
‘’Murray has an impressive amateur pedigree, and was considered one of Britain’s brightest boxing prospects. Things haven’t all gone his way in the pro ranks, with the losses to Liam Walsh, but he still a very dangerous fighter. This is going to be a make or break fight for Rashid, and a chance for him to show what he can really do!’’
Kassem meets Murray in a ten-round lightweight contest on the undercard of Dennis Ceylan’s European Featherweight title fight against British Champion Ryan Walsh, which will also feature rising Danish stars Abdul Khattab, Dina Thorslund and professional debutant Mikkel Nielsen.
Tickets are available online via www.arenanord.dk or by calling (+45) 96201050. All the action will be shown live on Viaplay Fighting. For more information, please visit http://viaplay.dk/fighting
Identical twins Josh and Kalam Leather intend inflicting double vision upon the nations rival super lightweights, literally and figuratively, writes Glynn Evans.
The gruesome twosome from Guisborough, north Yorkshire, feature together for the first time as pros on this weekend’s BoxNation televised bill at the Bellahouston Leisure Centre in Glasgow.
Ex ABA champ Josh shall be hoping to extend his unbeaten run to 11 as he steps up to 10 round level for the first time against Hungary hardman Gyorgy Mizsei while fellow national junior champ Kalam makes his long awaited pro bow against Newark survivor Fonz Alexander.
‘We’ve always been inseparable, done everything together,’ says 24 year old newbie Kalam, elder by 15 minutes.
‘Dad bought us each a pair of gloves when we were about nine and we’d drive mam crazy sparring in the living room. Josh was always a bit quicker, I possibly had more power but there was never anything between us and it got mega competitive.
‘I actually had trials for Middlesbrough FC when I was 13 or 14 before deciding to stick with my boxing.
‘I had 50 odd amateur fights, won the national Golden Gloves plus a few north-east junior titles and lost a close one to Josh Kelly from Sunderland who just went the Rio Olympics. However, when me little lad (Oscar) arrived three and a half years ago, I decided to take a break from fighting.
‘But I was never jealous of how our Josh were progressing. I always helped him in the gym - every session, we push each other to the limit – and I usually helped work his corner.
‘I carried on with the amateurs for a bit but when my old coach Frankie Cunningham left the
‘Welly’ (Wellington ABC) last year, I decided it was time to try the pros myself.
‘It’s a year since my last amateur fight but I’ve been with Josh through his last two camps and can’t wait to get in there. Now I want to be where Josh is. I’ll catch him up, alright!’
If that’s to prove the case, Kalam will need to advance at a fair clip. Sizzling sibling Josh is already established as one of the nation’s finest prospects at any weight and widely touted to enjoy a future at major title level.
‘Thanks to Kalam, this has been the best camp I’ve ever had,’ claims fast fists Josh who has logged four stoppages and five shut-outs on his perfect 10 fight slate.
‘While we don’t try to knock one another out, we definitely push each other and the spars are always ‘Even Stevens’. Kalam hits far harder than me. I’d never want to fight him with the small gloves cos I don’t fancy getting knocked out!’
Such is his potential and pedigree, Saturday’s assignment could prove Josh’s final mock exam before he is unleashed into a championship ring early in the New Year.
He says: ‘Ideally, I’d like some hard rounds and a late knockout, rounds seven to ten. Hopefully, I’ll come through in style then move on to the WBO European or InterContinental. I definitely feel I’m ready.
‘I’ve been sparring Terry Flanagan – great experience – so I’m aware what top world class level is about.
‘This Hungarian’s gone good rounds with the likes of Tom Stalker, Terry Flanagan, Anthony Crolla and Derry Mathews over here.
‘He’s a decent back foot counter puncher who’s won his last two by stoppage. It’s my first ten rounder. I trained for 10 last time but the lad came in overweight so they reduced it to four.
‘I definitely reckon I’m ready to take British and Commonwealth title fights now. I’ve already sparred Tyrone (Nurse, the British champ) so I know the score there. (Commonwealth king John Wayne) Hibbert lasts the rounds but, from what I’ve seen, I’d beat him with my speed and sharpness. He’s a bit slow.’
Kalam’s recent accession to the paid brigade has doubled coach Imran Naeem’s chances of producing his first champion.
‘They’ve similar temperaments and they’re weirdly close, really lean on each other,’ says the ex amateur who fronts the Stockton Boxing Academy.
‘One time, ahead of a family occasion, they went out separately into Middlesbrough yet brought exactly the same shirt to wear. Another time, Josh lost a tooth and shortly after Kalam lost exactly the same tooth. Uncanny.
‘Josh is a little sharper, quicker on his feet, whereas Kalam sits down on his shots more and thinks about what he’s doing.
‘Josh has paved the way but Kalam’s definitely got the potential to get to where Josh is at. He’s already sparring a far higher calibre than Josh was before his debut.
‘As a coach, I’m blessed. They share a fantastic work ethic and both listen and want to learn. Their dream is to reign as champions simultaneously and I’ll leave no stone unturned helping them to fulfil that.’
And the twin terrors take their first steps in bringing that ambition to fruition in Scotland this weekend.
‘Come Saturday night, I’ll be double nervous. My nerves are always worse watching Kalam than fighting myself,’ insists Josh who serves as chief support to Edinburgh cruiserweight Stephen Simmons.
‘I’ll most likely be on before Josh, which I prefer,’ adds Kallum.
‘They’ve matched me with Fonz Alexander, a tough lad who’ll give me a good scrap but if I keep centre ring, I should be okay.
‘Long term, the dream is for us both to be world champions at the same time.’
BoxNation, the Channel of Champions, will televise this fight on Sky (SD Ch.437 and HD Ch.490), Freeview (Ch.255), Virgin (Ch.546), TalkTalk (Ch.415), online at watch.boxnation.com and via apps (iOS, Android, Amazon).
"Any fighter can be knocked out no matter who he is," said Walters. "I like fighting the best and I like fighting against great technical fighter like Lomachenko. Look at what happened when I fought a great technical fighter like Nonito Donaire. Lomachenko is great, he knows what he is doing in the ring. But I always look for a knockout against whomever I fight. If I can do it quick, I will. This is the best fight out there in boxing today. It will be the Fight of the Year."
LONDON - Super-featherweight king Vasyl Lomachenko’s sensational world title showdown against undefeated Nicholas Walters will be shown exclusively live on BoxNation on November 26th.
Two-time Olympic gold medalist Lomachenko will defend his WBO title in a thrilling clash against knockout artist and former featherweight champion Walters from The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas.
The fight has been in the pipeline for a while and is one of this year’s most eagerly anticipated contests, pitting two of boxing’s very best against each other to determine the undoubted number one at 130-pounds.
Both men are renowned for their hard-hitting with two-weight world champion Lomachenko, regarded as one of the sports finest technicians, looking to continue his meteoric rise by overcoming the formidable ‘Axe Man’ Walters who has stopped 21 of his 27 opponents.
‘The Channel of Champions’ BoxNation will be the only place to see all the action live, in a battle that has all the makings for a ‘Fight of the Year’ contest.
"Boxing fans will be able to spend their Thanksgiving holiday weekend feasting on the year's most anticipated showdown," said Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum. "Forget their weight class. With more than 3/4 of their victories coming by way of knockout, they punch and win like heavyweights! We know how the fight is going to end. The question is, which fighter will end it."
"I want to thank HBO and Bob Arum for giving me this opportunity to test myself in the fight with the best. Walters you are next on my list." said Lomachenko.
"I am very happy and excited about this upcoming bout between Lomachenko and Walters," said Egis Klimas, Lomachenko's manager. "Once again Vasyl proved he wants to fight the very best fighters in his weight division and I want everyone to understand when he says so, he means it."
"Any fighter can be knocked out no matter who he is," said Walters. "I like fighting the best and I like fighting against a great technical fighter like Lomachenko. Look at what happened when I fought a great technical fighter like Nonito Donaire. Lomachenko is great, he knows what he is doing in the ring. But I always look for a knockout against whomever I fight. If I can do it quick, I will. This is the best fight out there in boxing today. It will be the Fight of the Year."
“This will be a tremendous contest between two elite boxers in their prime,” said Jim McMunn, BoxNation Managing Director. “We are delighted to be airing this fight exclusively live on BoxNation and have no doubt that subscribers will be in for a real treat when the pair lock horns on November 26th. It’s got all the makings to be something very special.”