Bilal Akkawy – the man who toughened up the NSW Blues – will fight at Madison Square Garden this Saturday in a fight that will propel the Peakhurst pugilist on to the world stage.
He’s 25-years-old, undefeated, and is a genuine Australian boxing prodigy with a record of 18-0-1 with 14 KO’s. It’s been a rapid rise since fighting out of Club Punchbowl as a youngster to now fighting at the world’s most famous arena in the city that never sleeps, New York City.
Hall of Fame trainer Johnny Lewis recently described Akkawy as a future world champion, and said he could be the heaviest hitter that Australian boxing has ever seen.
“Some people are blessed with raw power and I think Bilal is going to be an even better puncher than his dad,” Lewis said to The Daily Telegraph.
“Some people are born fast, some strong, and I think while you can improve the power in your punches, power is something you’re born with.
“It’s a gift from God and Bilal has certainly got that.”
Spare a thought for the Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues squad who earlier in the year faced the full force of Akkawy.
Coach Brad Fittler and NSW trainer Hayden Knowles asked Akkawy to run a boxing session and put them through their paces.
Despite being Australia’s heaviest pound-for-pound boxer, he pulled no punches.
“They’re a great bunch of blokes and it’s a very positive environment and a lot of enthusiasm, it’s good,” Akkawy told NSWRL.com.au.
“I always go in there to go hard, the way I look at it is we both train hard, we’re both fit, but it comes down to who has got the stronger will, who is not going to give up, so I just go for it.
“I like to dig them into the body, slow them down a bit.”
While his boxing counts for a lot, it was also his inner strength and character that got him invited into State of Origin camp.
Fittler hoped his dedication would rub off on the players. They won the State of Origin shield five days later.
“Every man and his dog, and even every superstar in Australia would want to be in this camp, but we wanted Bilal in this camp.” NSW trainer Hayden Knowles told NSWRL.com.au.
“First of all the boys respect what he does for a job, he fights with hunger, he fights with tenacity, the way Bilal fights is what we want from our players.
“Not that we want our players to be fighters, but we want our players to have the character of Bilal; just that will and that attack and that hunger, that's what we’re about.
“The boys had a mutual respect as soon as he walked into the room.
“I’m pretty sure the whole of Australia and one day the world will know who he is.”
Akkawy will announce himself to the world this at Madison Square Garden this Saturday when he takes on Mexico’s Victor Fonseca.
The fight will be on the undercard for Rocky Fielding vs Canelo Alvarez. Akkawy had the chance to spar with Alvarez in Los Angeles earlier in the year after one of his fights caught the eye of Eddy Reynoso, the man behind the success of Alvarez.