WHILE MOST PRIZE-FIGHTERS court material rewards and glory, Birmingham super-bantam Raza Hamza is driven by the desire to satisfy his late mum's final wish that he win a boxing world title.
Ahead of his debut in Wolverhampton on February 14, boxing writer Glynn Evans caught up with the 21-year-old multiple national junior champion and listened to his story.
I've one younger sister and an 18-year-old brother, Amir, who's had seven amateur fights with five wins and four stoppages. I'm a single man who still lives with my dad in Handsworth Wood.
I'm a full time professional boxer.
At what age did you become interested in boxing and why?
My mum always enjoyed the sport and encouraged me to start training. She was dying of cancer when I started training aged 12 and actually passed away on the day of my first amateur contest. She insisted that I took the bout and told me it was her dream that I became a champion.
What do you recall of your amateur career?
I boxed at the Aston ABC where (ex-Commonwealth Games gold medallist and Commonwealth Super-Flyweight champion) Don Broadhurst used to box. I was coached by John Holmer and Lee Bolton and stayed there for eight years.
My amateur record was 64 fights, 54 wins. I never entered the national schoolboys' competitions but I won three English junior ABA titles and two national boys' club titles. The first national title was particularly precious to me and after that it became a bit of a habit.
In my first crack at the NACYPs, aged 16, I lost on a majority to (high-flying pro prospect) Mitchell Smith in Coventry. We became quite good friends afterwards.
I entered the senior ABAs twice but both times got beaten in the semi finals in Liverpool. First year, I lost to Alex Foulkes from the Wirral who I later beat 18-3 in a rematch. Next time, I lost to Mark Leach from the Ardwick Lads.
I boxed in places like Guernsey, Hong Kong and Thailand for my club and also made four or five appearances for England at junior and youth level. I won a multi-nation's tournament over in Poland, beating their national champion.
The amateurs were a happy time but I could've achieved more if politics weren't involved. I used to go up to Sheffield to spar guys like Charlie Edwards, Tommy Stubbs, Khalid Yafail and Gamal Yafai, but the Team GB selectors never really showed much interest in me.
Why did you decide to turn pro when you did?
After eight years in the amateurs, I needed a change, to try something new. To be honest, I should probably have done it when I was 18 or 19.
Tell us about your back up team.
I've signed a promotional deal with Frank Warren and I'm managed by Lee Beard.
I'm coached by John Costello at the back of a butcher's in Birmingham. There's just his two sons Thomas and Joseph, plus (unbeaten ex-Commonwealth Light-Middle king) Jamie Cox and myself.
John really believes in me. When I started up with him eight months ago I really lacked self-belief but he's shown me a lot of attention and has got me sparring well against world class guys like Stuey Hall and Scott Quigg, plus top pros such as Khalid Yafai, Gamal Yafai and Jazza Dickens. John forces me to work extremely hard and is a real good motivator.
Twice a week, I visit Des Fitness in Birmingham for extra strength and conditioning. Des also sorts out my nutrition.
Describe your style? What are your best qualities?
I'm orthodox and I believe I can box and fight. I can be slick on the back foot. My best shot is probably my right cross.
What specifically do you need to work on to fully optimise your potential as a fighter?
Above all, I have to continue to believe in myself. Then I'll do good things. Previously I doubted myself but now some of the best prospects in the country are keen for me to help them out with sparring and I'm doing okay against them.
What have you found to be the biggest difference between the pro and amateur codes?
It's a completely different ball game. Amateurs can be good for a couple of rounds but, for the pros, you have to be very strong and very tough, otherwise you'll get found out as the rounds increase. Top pros can be very tricky and they improve as the rounds go on.
Who is the best opponent that you've shared a ring with?
It's a split between Scott Quigg and Khalid Yafai. Scott's very strong and really clever. He cuts the ring down and sets traps. Kal is very strong, very fast and very fit.
All time favourite fighter.
Joe Calzaghe. He always proved people wrong. He avoided no one and beat everyone.
All-time favourite fight.
Calzaghe against Jeff Lacy. Joe completely schooled him, made a good fighter look an idiot.
Which current match would you most like to see made?
Gennady Golovkin against Floyd Mayweather. I've no idea who would win. That's why I want to see it.
I'd like 'Still Dre' by Dr Dre.
What are your ambitions as a boxer?
Firstly, I just want to win my debut! After that, I'll take every fight as it comes and try to stay unbeaten for as long as possible.
How do you relax?
I like to eat a good curry and I love watching football. I also do a bit of yoga and I enjoy reading. But, to be honest, my mind is always on boxing. I hate having days off (from the gym).
Let's say England. I was born in Aston but most of my fans are 'Bluenoses' (Birmingham City fans) and I don't want to upset anybody!
I actually read quite a lot about history and wars; non-fiction stuff. I did quite well in school, got six GCSEs, but left at 15 to attend the Hopwood Hall Academy in Manchester.
It's produced loads of quality boxers like Anthony Crolla, Nicola Adams, Scott Cardle and Ronnie Heffron. I studied a sports course there.
A bit of Asian plus hip hop, Drake and Tupac.
My favourite film is 'Scarface' and on TV I like to watch 'Crimewatch'.
Aspiration in life
To be able to look back and know that I tried my very best to make my mother's final wish come true - to become world champion.
Hard work will eventually pay off??? if not now, then one day.