With his 30th birthday approaching next month, touted Super-Middleweight prospect Umar Sadiq is in an almighty hurry to get his career moving.
‘My goal is to be world champion within three years,’ declared the 6ft 3in university graduate who forsook a lucrative career in accountancy to pursue his ring dreams last year.
‘I’ve three aims for 2018. One is to test myself against any other prospect of similar experience. A second is to fight anyone lingering around British title level by the end of the year. The third is to accept any national title fight.
‘At this stage of my development, I’ve no intention of calling people out or building up rivalries with people who may change weight class by the time I reach championship level. Believe it or not, I’m capable of making Middleweight myself so I watch and respect all the main players between 160-175lbs, I just don’t shout ‘em out!
‘But I know I’m more than capable. In addition to Lawrence Okolie, I’ve been sparring the likes of Billy Joe Saunders, James DeGale, Frank Buglioni, Joshua Buatsi and Anthony Yarde.’
Born into a middle class family in Kaduna, north-west Nigeria, the former boarding schoolboy emigrated to the UK aged 12 but didn’t embrace the Noble Art until his late teens.
‘To my knowledge, there is no history of boxing in my family. Thierry Henry and David Beckham were my heroes as a kid,’ states ‘Top Boxer’ who made a very polished pro debut when outclassing one-time squaddie Lewis Van Poetsch over four rounds at the Copper Box Arena last September.
‘I was naturally athletic, good at running and always playing football and basketball with my friends inside those ‘cages’ on the estate but I was already 16 years old when I first laced up for boxing.
‘Initially, I only did it for fitness, to pursue a healthy life style rather than for competition. Then, when I was 19, I got p***ed at a party yet, despite just three hours sleep, I still turned up to training the next morning and performed very well in a spar against a fella who won the Novices that year. That convinced me that I had something I just couldn’t ignore.
‘At 20, I had my first bout under Tony Cesay at Fulham and Brunswick and, two years after, I moved to the Repton.
‘I went in the ABAs five times but was either beaten by the eventual champion or in ‘disputed’ circumstances. Only Kirk Garvey (10-1 as a pro) beat me fairly.’
During a nine year, 45 bout amateur innings which ran parallel to his college studies and accountancy career, the Ilford based starlet captured University, London and English titles and wore the international singlet of both his native and adopted homelands. Representing the former, he made it to the 2016 Olympic Qualifiers in Azerbaijan
‘I first tried to qualify for Nigeria at the 2012 London Olympics but got injured. In 2016 they invited me to try again which was an honour. I took six weeks paid leave and, within a fortnight, had beaten all the competitors and qualified for the team,’ recalls the erudite and articulate Umar who conceded a contentious decision to a Russian at the second stage.
For his pro career, slickster Sadiq has opted to align with highly regarded ex West Ham amateur coach Brian O’Shaughnessy at the ‘Kool BoxGym’ in Bethnal Green.
He explains: ‘In the ABAs, I had to face another Repton guy so we were given neutral coaches. I was given Brian who was at West Ham at the time and I was very impressed by how calm and relaxed he was, how clear his instructions were. He’s also a great pad man. When I needed a coach to prepare me for the Olympic Qualifiers in Azerbaijan, I knew he was the perfect person. We’ve been together ever since.
‘There’s five pros at our gym but I set the pace, set the benchmarks. I’m ridiculously competitive, try to be the best at everything I do. My mantra is ‘There is no opponent.’ I’m all about being the very best that I can be. If I’m on point, I beat them all.
‘I’m broad shouldered and long armed. The main adaption I needed to make (for the pros) was to stop bouncing and instead glide around the ring. I’m also learning to really pick my shots rather than just throw my hands.’
So it’s full steam ahead for a second four rounder at the Copper Box on February 10th where the loose goose promises to deliver a clinic for those in attendance.
‘It’s been five months since my last fight so I’ve a lot to get off my chest,’ warns Umar.
‘You’re going to see another skilful composed action packed performance. I don’t like getting touched but Adam Jones has never been stopped before so I intend to really ‘stick it on him’!’
Follow Umar: @TopBoxerSadiq (Twitter/Instagram) and umartopboxersadiq (Facebook)
Tickets for ‘The Untouchables’ priced at £50 (Lower Tier), £70 (Floor), £100 (Floor), £150 (Floor) and VIP/Hospitality £250 are available via See Tickets, Eventim and Ticketmaster.