Manchester’s Zelfa Barrett cut a relaxed figure at Thursday’s press conference ahead of his super-featherweight world title clash with Shavkat Rakhimov in Abu Dhabi this weekend.
‘Brown Flash’ Barrett gets his first shot at world honours against the Tajikistan man and is confident of getting his hand raised on Saturday.
“I do believe I’ll be world champion. I’m in the ring with a great fighter, I’ve studied him, he’s got good trainers behind him but I believe in myself, I’ve been in the gym and this is the moment I’ve been waiting for in my life”, said Barrett at the fight week press conference.
“This level’s about belief, it’s not about anything else and I believe in myself. I truly believe I’ll be a world champion and what a way to do it against a good fighter.”
Rakhimov is also eager to establish himself at world level and put his country on the professional boxing map.
The 28-year-old fought to a majority draw against Joseph Diaz Jr last year for the IBF featherweight title and looks to go one better this weekend at 130lbs.
“I want to demonstrate myself at the top of world level. Big respect to my opponent, I’m just trying to perform at the best that I can and definitely I’m at the top of this weight”, said Rakhimov via translator.
Barrett was ordered to fight for the vacant strap at six weeks notice following Joe Cordina‘s failure to fulfil his mandatory defence against Rakhimov due to injury.
Cordina will fight the winner of Saturday’s contest.
The IBF originally ordered Cordina to defend versus Rakhimov within 90 days of his second-round victory over Kenichi Ogowa in June which saw him become world champion.
A hand injury meant that could not happen and so Cordina was allowed an extra 60 days, taking him to this weekend in Abu Dhabi.
A second hand injury however left the IBF with no choice but to strip Cordina to allow Rakhimov a shot at the world title.
Barrett was ranked at number two [behind Rakhimov at number one] and so was drafted into fight for the vacant belt.