BBN’s Aqib Tahlat spoke to the ‘Maverick’ Shabaz Masoud (6-0) ahead of his November 30 fight in Birmingham Arena.
The Frank Warren promoted ‘Midlands Mayhem’ card is stacked full of titles and talent, with three British championship contests on the same bill, as well as a world title fight.
The 23-year-old spoke exclusively to BBN ahead of his seventh professional contest and second appearance in front of the BT Sport cameras:
Hello Shabaz, tell me how’s your training camp going?
“It’s, literally, its fully fit at the moment, smashing my pace, training hard, I only just boxed a few weeks ago so my weight’s good, everything’s good.
“I feel good, it’s my second fight since being signed to Frank Warren, he’s keeping me busy because I only boxed on October 12, a few weeks, so I think he’s liking what he’s seeing.”
Your last performance received a lot of praise, most notably from Billy Joe Saunders and Ben Davison, how does that make you feel?
“They’ve always been around me anyway and always give me advice. I always say to people real recognises real; when you see people like that, high calibre, giving me such good praise it’s a wonderful thing but it just motivates me because I wanna be in a position like Billy Joe Saunders one day, I wanna be a world champion.
“He’s [Ben Davison] helped me non-stop, the guy’s been there for me, I just can’t thank him enough, plus he doesn’t have to, but he knows this kid is up and coming.
“Sometimes you just need that little bit of a push from people. I always knew I was going to take over, I’m gonna stay busy now and go for the big belts.”
You’re getting a lot of comparisons to Prince Naseem Hamed, does that give you added pressure or does it motivate you more?
“It motivates me more. But I always say Naz was Naz and I’m 'Maverick' Masoud, I’ve got more variety to my game than just what Naz did. Naz was awkward, but at the same time I’m a lot more composed than he was when he was young in his career.”
Any other fighters you looked up to?
“I love Crawford, I love watching Tyson Fury, Roy Jones Jr, Andre Ward; all the best fighters I study and, you know what? I’m not just a boxer, I’m a student of the game, like even when I’m not training and I’m not in the gym and I’m resting, I live the life, always watching boxing, I’m on top of things.”
As a British Pakistani, is there added pressure because, as a community, it can be quite pressurising?
“Diamonds are formed under pressure; the more pressure, the better I can shine, the more I can show people this what I’m capable of and this is what I can do.
“I can’t wait until I’m in big 12 round title fights, and I’m a headlining bill, Inshallah, god willing.”
Since Amir Khan, why hasn’t there been enough British Pakistani boxers coming through the ranks?
“I think, within the British Pakistani community, the old-school parents wanted their kids to work and go down the education route, whereas, luckily, my dad boxed and he saw the opportunity, we’ve not even done it for financial gain, but as a career; we fell in the love with the game and now want to take it to new heights.”
Is there a good turnout coming for the 30th November?
“It should be about 250-300 people again, so it’s a good turnout, but I’m just excited, man! I just wanna get in there and perform, the more I perform the more people see me, the more people are gonna want to come and watch me.”
How important is it for you to try and impress in your fights?
“Everyone who’s seen me box or seen me in person, training and stuff, they’ve always said, ‘You know what, he’s not normal, he’s special’, especially the people around me.
“I’ve always had that belief that I wasn’t going to be average. I come in the gym every single day, I ain’t competing against no one in my weight, I’m competing against myself. As long as I’m getting better as a fighter and improving, I truly believe ain’t nobody can beat me in my weight.”
Your next fight, do you know who your opponent is yet?
“I have no idea; I don’t usually ask, I’m not one of those fighters who worries too much, I just want to get in there and handle business.”
You said in one of your recent interviews that your showreel on YouTube has got over 3-4 million views, is that true?
“Do you know what? It’s gone up! I was speaking to BT Sport in the last press conference and, altogether when you add up all the little clips of me, it goes over eight million views, and it just goes higher and higher day by day.
“For someone so young, I’m getting more views than some of the champions and big names in the sport; it’s crazy, but this is just the start!
“I wanna build myself up to a level where everyone in boxing will know me and, one day, I can become a household name.”
Are there a lot of people starting to notice you in your area?
“I’ll go for food and people will come over and say, ‘Yes, Maverick!’People just want to come and show you love, it’s a blessing because you can have people who just gonna talk bad about you, you know what I mean, I don’t know why, but people relate to me as a person. I don’t come from much, you know what I mean? I work my way up, I grind, so I’m just another kid from the ends, that’s the way I look at.”
Any message you want to send to your fans?
“I just want to thank everyone who has supported me. I want to give a massive shout to my sponsors.”
Masoud's next opponent has just been revealed as Romanian Stefan Nicolae (3-19-1). The pair will clash over six three-minute rounds at super-bantamweight on November 30 in Birmingham.
The trio of British title fights topping the card will be Sam Bowen v Anthony Cacace for the British Super Featherweight Championship; Lerrone Richards v Lennox Clarke for the British & Commonwealth Super Middleweight Championship; and Chris Jenkins v Liam Taylor for the British Welterweight Championship.
There's also WBO World Bantamweight Championship match between titleholder Zolani Tete and challenge John Reil Casimero, as well as Sam Maxwell v Connor Parker for the WBO European Super Lightweight title; and Hamzah Sheeraz fighting for the vacant WBO European Super Welterweight strap against an opponent yet to be confirmed.
A super talented undercard features bantamweight starlet Dennis McCann (4-0, 3KOs), as well as his iBox Gym stablemate Eithan James (1-0). George Davey (1-0) returns on the show, alongside Stoke middleweight Nathan Heaney (8-0, 2KOs), Birmingham welterweight Ryan Kelly (14-2, 7KOs) and Warwickshire middleweight River Wilson-Bent (5-0 2KOs).