Super-Middleweight Sensation Zak Chell Promises Excitement
Author:  Andrew Fairley

When a boxer can combine stylish and educated boxing with punching power they invariably prove a hit with the fans. Such a man is Fulham’s rising super-middleweight sensation Zak Chelli who on 13th July at the York takes on his fifth opponent in Wiltshire’s Anthony Fox (5 – 11 - 4), a sturdy operator with only one inside the distance loss on his ledger and a boxer sure to pose a stiff test for the unbeaten Chelli (4 – 0). If he can halt Fox within the scheduled six rounds it will underline his growing reputation as a prospect to watch in the twelve stone division, one which has seen so much championship success for British boxers in the past including greats such as Nigel Benn, Chris Eubank, Richie Woodall and Joe Calzaghe. With lofty ambitions of his own, the twenty year old Chelli is targeting a time when his name will be also be mentioned alongside the super-middleweight greats. The contest, which takes place on the MTK London ‘Seize the City’ show is likely to give observers an insight into the veracity of those ambitions.

Turning over in February 2017, the Fulham man’s professional record to date has taken a predictable route against the kind of opposition designed to teach a novice pro a thing or two, but having produced a pair of eye-catching inside the distance wins and a controversial technical draw against Jacob Lewis in his first fight which could perhaps have been more accurately judged a TKO win, Chelli hasn’t failed to dominate. With a high-achieving amateur career and with his father Zak Chelli Snr a respected ex-professional himself, Chelli has some impressive fistic credentials and is promising the fans in attendance one thing:  excitement.    

Promoted by Frank Warren and managed by Joe Pyle, Chelli is a young man on a mission: “It was my dad’s dream to become a champion so he chose my brother and me to take after him. I’ve been training all my life since the age of three, so I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t training. My brother is at University as well so he’s taken a break from boxing, so while my father sees himself through me, now I see it as my dream. I want to do it for myself and become a champion.” Chelli certainly brings great experience gained in the unpaid ranks: “At Dale Youth I won the ABA Junior title twice and then with Times ABC won the Three Nations Youth Championship in 2015 when I beat Team GB star Ben Whittaker. I’ve also boxed for England against Ukraine in the World Championships.” Chelli has also benefitted from the experience of sparring some top names at his weight: “I’ve sparred James DeGale, George Groves and Chris Eubank Jnr. George Groves’ gym is literally a five minute walk from my house just across the bridge in Wandsworth. He called us up for sparring, we were supposed to do six rounds but after four he’d had enough! He was going to pay me for the sparring, but I said ‘look, don’t pay, just call me back every week for sparring’ and he said yes. He didn’t call me back though! Eventually he did as he knew he needed the sparring, so we sparred before his fight with Chris Eubank Jnr and this time it was agreed for eight rounds and his trainer Shane McGuigan was constantly checking my gloves!!  We ended up only doing six rounds, but I’m hoping he’ll call me up again! I did learn a lot from him though, and George Groves is a great guy, very friendly.”
“By the age of sixteen and from when I won the Three Nations I wanted to turn pro and believed I could make it big. It’s different in the pros, you have to put in so much more effort and of course it’s a business. In the amateurs you can treat it like a hobby, but in this game you have to be commercially available and aware. Now I train out of Guildford City Boxing Club and that’s the main reason I chose to go to the University of Surrey (having completed his first year of a BA in Business Management & Marketing) because the club is just a five minute walk from there. My father is my trainer and John Edwards is my second, and he gets me great sparring all over.  Joe Pyle is very nice and respectable, a very straight man and I like that. On my debut against Jacob Lewis I caught him with a punch and he got cut, and when he got back to his corner the doctor said he could carry on but I saw him shake his head and say no. They said it was a collision of heads but you can watch the replay! I’d knocked him down in the second round as well. My second fight against Chris Dutton was a TKO win in the second, and in my last fight (against Poland’s Przemyslaw Binienda) I scored a second round TKO again. Adam jones was my most difficult opponent and that went six rounds. Every round I was trying to put him down without getting hit myself but he took every punch. I remember he even smiled at me! It was my third fight and he’d had over thirty and had never been stopped, but some people are just made of stone. It was my biggest learning fight and I took a lot from it.”

“I do carry power which I think is inherited, and I do go looking for a KO or a stoppage win in my fights. When you’re a pro you’ve got to be exciting, especially early on in your career, and if you want to go far you’ve got to look for the knockouts to move up the ranks quickly. Some may say that’s a risky strategy, but if you want to make it that’s what you’ve got to do. I see boxing from a business point of view. When you look at the great boxers most have been known for their knockouts and their exciting styles. You’ve got to be different. You need dedication and determination. I believe if you do something you keep at it, whatever it is and however boring you may find it, you’ll succeed. I’ve dedicated myself and I know nothing else.”

Almost certainly he will face another test in the tough Fox: “He’s only been stopped once in his second fight but in his last five fights he’s won four, and in his last fight where he lost he knocked the guy down twice in the fourth round. He’s also been in with good boxers like Jack Flatley and Lerrone Richards and taken them to the final bell, so for me he’s decent opponent and I’ve studied him well. I’ll take it nice and slow to begin with as I’ve noticed he tires in the later rounds, and that’s when I’m going to put it on him and go for a stoppage. I want to prove that I‘m better than the other super-middleweights who have fought him, particularly Lerrone Richards who holds the WBO European belt. To all of them I’m saying ‘watch out, I’m coming!’ To the fans paying to watch me fight I guarantee you a night of excitement and you won’t regret spending your money!”