Last December, Zelfa Barrett sat at home and watched Jordan Gill shock Michael Conlan in their super featherweight fight.
Barrett (30-2, 16 KO’s) had been patiently waiting for a route to a world title shot to open up and a couple of days after the fight, ‘The Brown Flash’ told BoxingScene.com that he would welcome a showdown with Gill (28-2-1, 9 KO’s).
“Look, I’m not calling him out. I’d prefer to be calling out the world champions,” Barrett said at the time. “Jordan isn’t a world champion and I’d be getting nothing from it but if Eddie [Hearn] said to me, ‘Yo, Zelfa. Jordan Gill in a final eliminator for a world title,’ then I’ll take that fight all day long. No question about it.”
Last week, it was announced that Barrett and Gill will meet on April 13th. The fight will be a world title eliminator of some sort - whether that is a final eliminator or not is still to be determined - but the chance to headline against Gill at the Manchester Arena was too big an opportunity to turn down.
Barrett has been a staple of major shows for some time, winning Commonwealth and European belts at 130lbs and performing well before being stopped in nine rounds by Shavkat Rakhimov in a short notice challenge for the vacant IBF title in November 2022.
However, he began his career by boxing on small hall shows promoted by his uncle and trainer, former British and European super lightweight champion, Pat Barrett. His journey took him from Middleton Arena to Oldham Sports Centre and from Bury’s Castle Leisure Centre to Newcastle Racecourse. Barrett stayed busy, worked on his craft and began gaining ground on fighters with much more amateur experience and much more powerful promoters.
Now, more than nine years into his professional career he has the opportunity to top the bill at his home city’s most famous boxing venue.
“They delivered,” Barrett told BBTV. “Eddie [Hearn] said they’d promise me a big fight next time and they delivered, better than it could be. We’re at the M.E.N. I’ve seen Crolla win, I’ve seen Scott Quigg win. My uncle Mike took me to one of Hatton’s fights there. I knew one day I’d be there headlining. Whether that's winning a world title, defending one or whatever. They delivered.”
Gill resurrected his career against Conlan. Having suffered a brutal stoppage defeat to Kiko Martinez in October 2022, the former European featherweight champion vanished from the spotlight and battled some well documented personal issues. He bravely regrouped, returned as a super featherweight and produced a career best performance to dominate the Irish hero, eventually stopping Conlan in the seventh round. Barrett respects the man from Peterborough but believes that the fight is the ideal next step and the final hurdle before a second attempt at a world title.
“Jordan’s a good fighter. I’m taking nothing away from him,” he said. “I’ve got to be sharp and on it. He’s gonna be sharp and on it. He feels like it’s his opportunity. He beat Conlan and he’s taking it fight by fight whereas I believe I’m gonna win and get a world title after this. I’m not looking past Jordan but this is part of my journey. I beat Jordan who's a good fighter and a good name on the record and I fight for the world title.”