IT’S a good thing Forte Boxing Academy coach Nudge Mieli doesn’t have any hair, because there’s times he’d be tearing it out watching his charge Haithem Laamouz.
It’s not because he doesn’t back his fighter – he’s adamant Maltese-born Laamouz can, and will, be a world champion.
It’s because, despite having every boxing tool in his arsenal, the Batemans Bay-based lightweight will always be a fighter at heart – one with a penchant for pleasing a crowd with his willingness to stand and deliver.
It makes for some nervous moments in the corner for Mieli, but he’s had little cause for concern so far, with Laamouz yet to be troubled in nine bouts as a pro.
He’ll put his perfect 9-0 record on the line on July 8 at the Fraternity Club when he takes on veteran Filipino Joebert Delos Reyes for the Australian lightweight title.
It promises to be his biggest test to date and a chance for local fans to see one of their own rising stars in action in a hometown bout.
“Haithem’s confident, he’s flamboyant and he can please a crowd. He can box, he can move, he can bang,” Mieli said.
“We won’t be standing there banging with this guy for too long, but he really wants to put on a show for Wollongong so hopefully the crowd can get out and support us.”
Some caution will be warranted against Delos Reyes, who has wins over fellow lightweight stars Darragh Foley and Valentine Borg on his record, the latter by KO.
“This guy’s dangerous, he’s legit,” Mieli said.
“He’s getting towards the end of his career and he knows it and this is an opportunity for him to take it off a young guy.
“I’ve been told by their camp he wants to do to Haithem what he did to Val Borg. That just makes Haithem very excited and I hope [ Delos Reyes] comes to fight because it’s going to be great to watch.”
Laamouz’s Forte stable-mate Mark “Too Sharp” Lucas (8-0) will also feature on the card, making his first defence of the OPBF silver middleweight title against 45-fight veteran Arnel Tinampay.
Tinampay has shared the ring with the likes of Sam Ah See, Rocky Jerkic, Dennis Hogan and Jarrod Fletcher and will be a step up for the Commonwealth Games representative.
“[Tinampay] is very, very durable. He’s never been stopped, he’s fought some of the very best Aussies,” Mieli said.
“He's been in with the likes of Rocky Jerkic and those sort of guys.
“It’s a step up for us, he’s had 40 fights and he’s tough so we’re preparing for 10 tough rounds.
“I don’t think we’ve been able to really showcase Mark’s boxing ability yet because of how awkward most of the guys we’ve fought have been.
“His last four fights have been [against] positive records and we’re looking for that next challenge.
“We know this guy’s tough, he definitely can punch and we know he’s going to be there to fight the whole time, so it’s another step to where we’ve got to get to.”
Laamouz and Lucas will feature on a stacked Neutral Corner Promotions card headlined by former WBC super-middleweight champion Sakio Bika who will be looking to kick-start another world title run against West Aussie Luke Sharp.