On Friday night, Marcel Braithwaite (16-3-1, 1 KO) stopped Ijaz Ahmed in nine rounds of their rematch to win the British super flyweight title.
The impressive victory means that the Liverpudlian has now completed the full set of domestic titles at 115lbs. He won the English belt in 2019 and collected the Commonwealth title this past June. The famous Lonsdale belt is the biggest prize, however, and the way Braithwaite won it should set him up for even bigger things in the future.
Braithwaite and Ahmed fought to a split draw back in March but this time, the 29 year old left absolutely no room for error.
“We thought we won the first fight. We only had 19 days notice and there’s a difference between being fit and being fight fit for twelve rounds. This time we had a full camp, we worked on certain shots and we did go for the knockout because we knew we could knock him out,” said Wayne Smith, who trains Braithwaite at the Golden Gloves gym in Liverpool.
“We took our time, stayed on the back foot and let him tire himself out by running after Marcel. When it was time to step on the gas, that’s what we did and the shots we worked on paid off.”
The victory caps off an impressive twelve months for Braithwaite. Last November – although he missed weight by half a pound – he beat current European bantamweight champion, Thomas Essomba, at super flyweight and in-between his two fights with Ahmed, he squeezed in the Commonwealth title victory over Ryan Farrag, himself a former holder of the European belt at 118lbs.
The only men to have beaten Braithwaite over the past five years are former European flyweight champion and world title challenger, Jay Harris, and current IBF flyweight boss, Sunny Edwards. Both fights went the distance and despite losing a wide decision to ‘Showtime’, Braithwaite managed to put the brilliant Edwards on the canvas in the seventh round.
The stoppage of Ahmed was the first time Braithwaite has managed to end a fight inside the distance but Smith feels that now his fighter is a different animal these days.
“It’s big. People say Marcel isn’t a puncher but if you look down his record, who should he have stopped?” Smith told BoxingScene.com. “Most of them are featherweights or super feathers. He had Sunny Edwards – who is arguably the best flyweight in the world at the moment – on his arse and was in the fight all the time, it was just a bit early for Marcel. He’s ready now. He’s matured as a fighter and it’s his time now.
“He must be one of the most active fighters in the country. Thomas Essomba, a European champion. He’s gone on to beat Ryan Farrag who’s a good fighter. Then he boxed on 19 days notice for a British title and we thought we won. Now he’s the British and Commonwealth champion. All done under the radar. All done on small hall shows.”
Life can be hard for a British super flyweight and although Braithwaite has accomplished a lot, he has received low wages and little recognition. Smith feels that the time has arrived to capitalize on his success.
The British super flyweight division isn’t exactly packed with attractive opponents. Quaise Khademi will campaign for a shot at the belt after recording two draws with Ahmed in the past and Southern Area champion, Jack Hughes, will no doubt find himself in the mix for a title shot early next year.
Neither of those names appeal to Smith. He and Braithwaite have had a long, close relationship and having brought him up from the very bottom, he now wants to see just how far they can go together.
“There’s no European title at super flyweight. Within the three years I’ve been his manager, I’ve asked for everybody. I asked for Quaise Khademi. I asked for Tommy Frank. I even asked for a rematch with Jay Harris because Marcel will fight anybody. He’s proven that to get where he is. They can’t ignore him no more,” Smith said.
“I don’t think there’s any point in defending that belt. I don’t think there’s anybody who deserves a shot. He’s 29 now so he’s gotta ago. He’s ranked highly in all the organizations. I want a world title. He’s with Fightzone and Stephen Vaughan. If he does fail – which I’m not looking at – he can come back and he’s still got his British and Commonwealth titles. We’ve got to let him enjoy his victory and business-wise, the right decision is to go for the big guns.”