As the biggest fight of his career so far looms, undefeated North boxer Billy Stuart has sparred with WBC international silver champion Kash Farooq.
Stuart is set to face Mexican Alejandro Jair Gonzalez for the IBF youth super-bantamweight title at Hamilton Academical’s New Douglas Park on Saturday July 31
As part of his preparation Stuart, aka “The Butcher”, got in the ring with ring star Farooq at the Granite City ABC gym in Aberdeen.
It was a pivotal part of an intensive training camp for the 23-year-old as Farooq has a similar style to Gonzalez (9-2-2).
Farooq beat Alexander Espinoza in April this year to claim the Nicaraguan’s WBC international silver title.
Influential promoter Eddie Hearn recently hailed Farooq as “one of the brightest young stars in world boxing, not just in the bantamweight division” and confirmed beating Espinoza would be the launchpad to world title shots.
Farooq, who will defend his WBC belt against an as yet unconfirmed opponent at Matchroom Fight Camp on August 14, made the five-hour round trip from his Glasgow home to spar with Stuart.
Stuart, who boasts a flawless record of 10 wins from 1o fights, said: “Kash is a world-class boxer and you can’t get any better than him as a sparring partner.
“It was perfect to spar with Kash as he has a similar style to the Mexican.
“Kash kept me sharp with his head movement, so I had to get my timing right.
“It was great sparring with him.
“I can learn so much from different styles and different sparring.”
Studying video footage of Gonzalez
Northern Sporting Club star Stuart will bid to secure his second professional belt, having won the vacant BUI super-bantamweight title in May 2019 with a points defeat of Dylan McDonagh.
Boasting a pro return of nine wins (six stoppage), two losses (one stoppage) and two draws, Gonzalez will constitute the biggest test of Stuart’s career to date.
One of the stand-out victories in Gonzalez’s career was a defeat of former IBF super-flyweight world champion Rodrigo Guerrero on split decision in October 2019.
Macduff’s Stuart, who trains in Aberdeen, has studied footage of Gonzalez and is confident he has isolated weaknesses that can be exploited.
Stuart said: “He only has one video on YouTube that I have watched and I have seen things that he does well and things that he does pretty bad.
“I can see a lot more bad than good, although that is maybe me being a bit biased.”
No ring rust despite lack of fight time
Stuart will go against Gonzalez in a 10-round title bout, having not fought for more than 18 months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
His last bout was November 16 2019 when securing a points defeat of Brett Fidoe.
In contrast, opponent Gonzalez has fought three times in the last year, registering back-to-back victories following a unanimous decision defeat to Bryan Mercado (17-1-0) in Mexico City last November.
Since that loss Gonzalez has secured stoppage defeats of Edwin Uriel Lara (4-1-0) and Martin Jimenez Delgado (4-9-1).
Stuart will fight Gonzalez in front of a crowd of 2,000 at New Douglas Park with the title bout also broadcast live on Fightzone TV.
He has no concerns over ring-rust.
Stuart said: “I haven’t had a fight in a year-and-a-half and I sm straight into a 10-rounder, but I am ready.
“Lockdown was frustrating, but you just have to keep going and working hard.
“I am a much better fighter than I was last year pre-Covid and I aim to prove that against Gonzalez.”