BOXER Kash Ali says the next 12 to 24 months are going to be massive in his quest to realise his dream of becoming a world heavyweight champion.
The Rotherham fighter steps back into the ring tonight in a non-title bout against Bulgaria's Mlanden Manev at Sheffield's Ponds Forge Arena.
It brings the curtain down on a year in which Ali won the IBF European Title and successfully defended it, both against two dangerous and ambitious foes in Tom Salek and Roman Gorst.
With 20 wins from his 21 pro fights, Kash is working his way up a lengthy queue of contenders keen to join the big names at the top of the most glamorous division of all.
And if the 29-year-old has his way, 2022 will be a breakthrough year for him.
“A lot can happen in a year in boxing. You never know,” said Ali.
“This time last year I boxed in a lockdown show in a six-rounder in front of fans in cars at the Sheffield Arena car park.
“Literally five months after I was in a big ten-rounder for the IBF European title. You can't predict boxing, it's madness.
“Hopefully I can defend my European title early next year and will be in some good exciting fights.
“These next 12 to 24 months are going to be important and this time next year I want to hopefully break into the world's top ten or 15 and be knocking on that world title door.”
Ali has built up a great bank of sparring experience against the best in the game and he's added to it recently by sharing a ring with former world champion Joseph Parker ahead of the Kiwi's rematch with Dereck Chisora this weekend.
“I have sparred at a high level, I'm always giving competitive spars.
“At the moment you have your world champions, Fury and Oleksandr Usyk, and then Joshua and Whyte. Then there's Chisora and Parker.
“I'm at a good European level at the minute. I've beaten a good kid to win the title and another to defend it and I'm confident enough that when the time comes I can become the heavyweight champion (of the world). That's my aim, that's the plan.”
Ali should have more than enough to take care of Manev, who has just three wins from his 15 fights, and he'll be taking direction from his trainer Richard Towers at his Rotherham gym before today's bout.
Added Kash: “I was supposed to be boxing a ten-rounder but it was postponed due to lockdown etc. It's still a fight and I've still got to keep my head switched on.”
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