AUSTRALIAN boxing trainer Gareth Williams believes his charge Damien Hooper can go onto become one of the country’s greatest ever fighters.
Hooper, a 2012 Olympian, entered the professional ranks in a blaze of glory last month, stopping the experienced Garth Murray inside five rounds.
He returns to the ring this Thursday (May 9) when he faces Kashif Mumtaz at the Royal International Conference Centre in Brisbane.
And Williams feels the Aboriginal light-heavyweight will put in a display which underlines his potential to follow in the footsteps of Aussie greats such as Kostya Tszyu, Jeff Fenech and Jeff Harding.
“I believe Damien can go all the way and he will probably be a kid who gets there sooner than some other very talented kids, due to his exciting style and the will to win at all costs,” Williams enthused.
“He has always boxed with a pro style and with a professional attitude and with Hatton Promotions behind him, I think we have a great team to guide him in the direction to see a new star.
“After the Olympics he was a big hit and made a lot of headlines, now with the head guard and singlet off, I believe we will see Australia’s best ever fighter.”
It’s a bold statement, but Williams is eager to stress that it does not mean Kashif Mumtaz is being taken lightly.
He said: “This is another big step for Damien, especially after only having his pro debut three weeks prior.
“Mumtaz holds a KO win over world rated Les Sherington, who recently turned his form around and beat Yori Boy Campus.”
Hooper’s co-manager, Matt Clark, is also of the opinion that Mumtaz could prove something of a banana skin and isn’t to be underestimated.
“We’re not overlooking Mumtaz, as he’s upset Les Sherrington, Manny Vlamis and Daniel Pawsey, but I’m hoping Damien proves his class and stops him inside the scheduled distance,” Clark said.
He added: “We’re delighted that Damien is back in the ring quickly and this time he’ll be boxing on Fox Sports, giving him some great exposure around the country. Damien looked fantastic in his professional debut last month and we, as well as Ricky Hatton, aim to keep him active.”