Rotherham v Sheffield: First shots fired in warm-up to Nav Mansouri v Sam Sheedy derby

Nav Mansouri and Matthew Mallin in action during anEnglish Light Middleweight title match last year

Nav Mansouri and Matthew Mallin in action during anEnglish Light Middleweight title match last year

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Rotherham’s Nav Mansouri has fired the first salvo in the run-up to the ‘derby’ match against Sam Sheedy.

The pair tee off on July 4 as Sheedy attempts to take the English light middleweight title off his opponent.

But Mansouri believes he is a few levels above his unbeaten opponent and is confident that he will have little trouble hanging on to the title at the Magna Centre.

The Kimberworth Park man has only one blemish on his 17-fight record, and that a Prizefighter TV tournament loss three years.

And he says he has improved immeasurably since sparring with the likes of Paulie Malignaggi and Martin Murray and training under Oliver Harrison, in Salford.

“Sheedy thinks he can beat me and he is up for the fight - he wants my spot and will be at his best but I am more than ready for him.

“Without being big headed I know I will beat him” said Mansouri.

“He’s fought Bradley Pryce who was well past his best but there is nobody else that was a proper test. I am stronger and fitter than ever and am peaking. The improvements in my technique have been great under Oliver, he shows me how to throw the correct punches at the right time. My timing is a lot better. I am a much smarter boxer now and everything is coming into place. I have trained hard like I always do and I know Sheedy is not going to trouble me.”

Mansouri, 26, has won 14 and drawn twice in a record marred by that defeat by Terry Carruthers. But he has boxed only five rounds since February last year.

The fighter injured his back as he was preparing to face Liverpool’s Liam Smith for the British title.

He still wants to compete for the Lonsdale belt and then move on the European scene, a level his trainer believes he is capable of campaigning in.

Sheedy, a year older, says he has never trained hard for a fight and is confident of a win.

n Mansouri will be interested to see if the English belt, itself, turns up at the Magna. “I have never had the belt to take home - I keep asking for it, but I’ve only ever been passed around and messed about.”

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