Disciplined Barrett Only Has Eyes For Gill

Boxing Scene

Cast your mind back to 2019. Local heroes Anthony Crolla and Scott Quigg are both reaching the end of their outstanding careers and Manchester boxing is waiting for the next young fighter to pick up the baton and run with it. 

There was never an official poll taken, but it is possible that the majority of North West fight figures would have tabbed Zelfa Barrett as the man most likely to continue bringing the big fights and big nights to the northern city.

Not many would have believed that it would be another five years before ‘The Brown Flash’ headlined a major show in his hometown.

Barrett (30-2, 16 KOs) has finally been given his chance. The 30-year-old will fight his super featherweight rival Jordan Gill at the Manchester Arena on April 13th and is determined to make sure it isn’t a case of one and done. 

Sadly, these days there is more to being a headline attraction than pure boxing ability. As well as winning fights in impressive fashion, a boxer must prove they can connect with the fans outside the ring and then persuade them to buy tickets before their promoter will fully throw their weight behind them.

If Barrett beats Gill, he will be all but assured of a shot at one of the super featherweight world champions. But if he is to attract the likes of WBA champion Lamont Roach or WBC boss O’Shaquie Foster across the Atlantic to Manchester and obtain a crucial home advantage, he will need Matchroom to put their hand in their pocket and take a gamble on him.

In some ways, April 13 will almost be an audition for Barrett and he is already being inundated with requests for tickets.

“Not because of who I’m fighting but because it’s here in Manchester,” Barrett told boxingscene.com. “People are happy they can come to this fight. I’ve not boxed here for a minute. I’ve been in Abu Dhabi, I’ve been in Wales. We’re in Manchester now. Everyone can come.

“I feel like when Eddie [Hearn] realises how many tickets I sell and how many people come out he’ll see that. I did well here last time and I was third on the show. Now I’m top of the bill. People aren’t buying them in ones and twos. They’re buying in bulk.”

Any professional fighter will tell you that the phone calls and texts from friends firstly demanding and then cancelling tickets will continue all the way up to fight week, but Barrett knows that he needs to concentrate solely on the most important part of the whole equation. Luckily, it is the one he has the most control over; beating Gill.

The former European featherweight champion comes into the fight having reignited his career by moving up to 130lbs and stopping Michael Conlan last December, but Barrett is exceptionally confident of victory. 

“All I focus on now is Jordan,” he said. “It’s more about performing. I know I’m going to win. I’ve trained too hard. I train damn hard for this. I want to perform and do what I should be doing. Letting the punches and combinations off, The counters and the feints. Doing them how I should be. I’m not worried about how he is or what he’s doing. I’m worried about what I’m going to do. I already know he’s a good fighter, I don’t need to think about him. As long as I’m me I’ll be alright. I’ll beat anyone.”

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