Zhanat Zhakiyanov has WBC bantamweight champion Shinsuke Yamanaka in his sights and is hoping for a showdown in the summer.
The dynamite-fisted Kazakhstani has gone from strength to strength since linking up with Ricky Hatton in Hyde and is keen to become the Hitman’s first world champion as a trainer and promoter.
Zhakiyanov, 31, is the WBC’s number one contender but is willing to wait until after Yamanaka has defended his crown against Argentina’s Diego Santillan in April for his shot at glory.
“I’m the number one with the WBC so I should be fighting Yamanaka next, but I’ll get him at some point this year,” Zhanat said.
“My dream has always been to win a world title like my hero Vassiliy Jirov and this year I will do it by beating Yamanaka.
“He cannot avoid me forever. I’m closing in on him and I do not care if we fight in Europe or in Japan. A ring is a ring and I know I can knock anyone out.”
Zhakiyanov has stopped his last 11 opponents, winning the European and WBC EPBC crowns along the way, but he feels he’s become a much more cultured fighter since joining up with Hatton in Manchester in 2013.
“Training with Ricky is like training with a king,” he said. “People in my country have great respect for him because he was a world champion who fought the very best and defeated Kostya Tsyzu, who was a hero in Kazakhstan.
“I feel I have become a much better fighter since I started training with him and it would be a great honour to become his first world champion.
“That is what I think about every day and I will do my best achieve it.”