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Pro Riaz backed to hit the top
KEVIN Maree says rising star Haidher Riaz has faster hands than Amir Khan at the same age, after signing up the Great Harwood boxer to a professional contract.
Riaz is due to make his professional debut in Colne in May after linking up with Maree’s gym at Stirk House in Gisburn.
The 20-year-old light middleweight has had a promising amateur career and attempted to gain selection for Pakistan’s Olympic boxing team last summer.
Now Riaz has decided to turn professional rather than wait for Rio 2016 and Maree believes he will join a promising set of fighters in the region.
Scottish fighter Kenny Anderson, who recently vacated the British title, and East Lancashire’s Luke Blackledge are already among those training at Stirk House.
Colne’s Shayne Singleton trains at Karl Ince’s gym in Bolton and challenges former Sheffield United footballer Curtis Woodhouse for the English light welterweight title in Manchester on Friday.
“Haidher has got blistering hand speed,” Maree said.
“I’ve seen some talented boxers at that age and I saw Amir Khan when he was younger.
“Haidher’s hands are faster than Amir at that age.
“He is not flashy like Naseem Hamed, but he is flashy in terms of hand speed and he’s a nice lad.
“Bert Myers has trained him as an amateur, I’ve known Bert for a long time and he trains fighters in a professional style.
“Haidher went out to Pakistan in the summer to try to get into their Olympic team and it was whether he wanted to wait another three years, but he wanted to turn pro now.
“I think you are going to see a real renaissance for boxing in this area in the next year or so.
“Shayne Singleton is fighting this week and we are going to support him, and obviously there’s Luke Blackledge with us as well.”
Blackledge knocked out Scott Edgar on Friday in a four-rounder to help him warm up for a fight with Denmark’s highly-rated Rudy Markussen in Frederikshavn on April 13.
He had been due to face Elvis Dube but had a change of opponent on the day of the fight.
“Elvis Dube twisted his ankle as he was trying to get weight off,” Maree said.
“It was at the very last minute so we were caught on the hop.
“Luckily we were able to get someone down from Scotland on the day.
“I wanted Luke to get the rounds and Luke wanted to knock him out. He knocked him out in the last round so it was perfect!
“It was a risk to take the fight because it was important he didn’t get a cut, but he didn’t get hit.
“It was a four rounder and the first four rounds will be critical in Denmark.
“They will be the danger because Rudy is a big puncher, he’s known as the Hardhitter.
“As the rounds go on it will suit us because of Luke’s youthful exuberance.”
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