Dubai-based Jordanian lightweight Bader Samreen will be out to stretch his unbeaten record when he meets Mexico's Jose Paez Gonzales in the main event of the inaugural Rising Stars Arabia fight card at the Mubadala Arena on Saturday.
The 2018 AIBA Youth World Championships bronze medallist is on eight wins - seven by knockout - and this weekend faces the biggest test of his career since turning professional in 2021.
“I’m very excited and this is a great opportunity to feature in the main event in Abu Dhabi,” Samreen told The National of the fight series that includes fighters from the Arab region and across the world.
“This is an opportunity and I’ll make sure I prove myself. I know a lot about Jose. He’s an experienced fighter, and me and my coach [Robert Etorma from the Philippines] have studied every angle of him, and we will hopefully come out victorious.”
Samreen began boxing at the age of 12 in 2012 in Amman, and had a successful amateur career, becoming a four-time national and Arab champion as well as winning bronze at the World Youth Championships.
He moved to Dubai in February 2021 and turned professional under manager Ahmed Al Seddiqi, the Emirati who established the first specialised boxing gym – Round 10 Boxing Gym – in the country and pioneered pro boxing in the region as a promoter and manager.
“Hopefully I can take my undefeated record forward, and hopefully keep climbing the stairs,” the Jordanian said.
“I have a lot of goals to achieve but right now I want to get this contest behind me. We have a gameplan for a title fight next year.
“All I must do is to keep training and learning from my manager while he monitors my progress and prepares my pathway. It is a partnership that is going well - he does his job and I do my job.”
Samreen met Al Seddiqi on social media and that interaction has now allowed him to pursue his dream.
“We don’t have pro boxing in Jordan,” he said. “Nobody in the world will be looking for pro boxers in Jordan. After winning a bronze in the World Youths I started contacting hundreds of those involved in pro boxing.
“I was just trying my luck because I came from a humble family. I thought winning bronze in the World Youths was an opportunity to try to get into pro boxing so I started messaging people with the hope of getting an opportunity.
“I had some responses but never the opportunity. Ahmed struck up a dialogue that lasted over three months before one fine day he asked me to send my passport details.
“It was towards the end of 2020 when the entire world was struggling with travel restrictions because of Covid-19.”
It turned out to be a life-changing experience for Samreen, who is the second child in a family of four siblings. He did, however, have to sacrifice his education for boxing.
“My final exam in high school clashed with the World Youths and I failed in two subjects. I thought I’ll go back to school but I didn’t because I wanted to pursue boxing full-time, which was my dream,” he said.
Samreen featured on the Oleksandr Usyk v Anthony Joshua undercard on August 20 last year at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah. He stopped Fuad Tarverdi of Azerbaijan with a first round TKO. He then returned to the ring to defeat Romanian Viorel Simion, also by first round TKO, on the Jake Paul versus Tommy Fury undercard in February.
Joining Samreen from the Round 10 Boxing Gym is UAE's Sultan Al Nuaimi, who also puts his nine-fight undefeated pro record on the line when he meets Tanzanian Jemsi Kibazange in the super-flyweight division.
Al Nuaimi, 30, returns more than a year after breaking his thumb in his last fight against India's Sohaib Haque in Dubai.
“I fractured my thumb in the first round but kept going and won by knockout in the seventh round,” he said of his last fight in November 2022. “I broke my thumb in the first 30 seconds of the first round. I didn’t think it was so bad at that time. It needed surgery and it took me two months to fully recover.”
Thereafter, Al Nuaimi had to undergo national service for six months and is now employed with Dubai Police.
“The police department knows of my boxing background and they give me time off for my training,” he said.
He meets an experienced opponent and billed it as the biggest of his pro career.
“Obviously the obstacles get bigger as you move up the ranks but I’m well prepared. Hopefully, I can come out of this with a win and continue my journey,” Al Nuaimi added.
Fight card (doors open 6pm)
Featherweight (4 rounds): Yousuf Ali (2-0-0 win/loss/draw) BHR v Alex Semugenyi (0-1-0) UGA
Welterweight (6 rounds): Benyamin Moradzadeh (0-0-0) IRN v Rohit Chaudhary (4-0-2) IND
Heavyweight (4 rounds): Youssef Karrar (1-0-0) v Muhammad Muzeei (0-0-0) UGA
Welterweight (6 rounds): Marwan Mohamad Madboly (2-0-0) EGY v Sheldon Schultz (4-4-0) RSA
Super-featherweight (8 rounds): Bishara Sabbar (6-0-0) JOR v Mohammed Azahar (8-5-1) IND
Cruiserweight (8 rounds): Mohammed Bekdash (25-0-0) GER v Musa N’tege (8-4-0) UGA
Super-flyweight (10 rounds): Sultan Al Nuaimi (9-0-0) UAE v Jemsi Kibazange (18-6-2) TZA
Lightweight (10 rounds): Bader Samreen (8-0-0) JOR v Jose Paez Gonzales (16-2-2) MEX