'I will not disappoint': Karim Guerfi interview
European bantamweight champion Karim Guerfi tells James Lupton he is aiming to take a step closer to one of the 'big four' world titles in his next fight...
Allow me to introduce the reigning EBU bantamweight champion, Karim Guerfi.
Not one to shy away from the spotlight or the big names either, the 31-year-old Frenchman has pulled no punches by calling out two of the best in the 118lbs division.
"In England the boxing is beautiful," he tells Boxing Monthly. "In my category I would like to fight two guys, Paul Butler and Ryan Burnett."
You may remember Guerfi coming to Liverpool in June 2016 and beating Ryan Farrag for the vacant EBU title on a Frank Warren show. Seen as the clear underdog, he was never meant to beat the home fighter but a third-round stoppage victory allowed him to regain the European title which he had lost in Sheffield to Zhanat Zhakiyanov two years earlier.
Guerfi hails from the south-east of France. "I lived in the neighbourhoods of my city Manosque," he explains. "My parents took very good care of me, my parents educated me to put everything in perspective. My father based his education solely on success, I was afraid to disappoint him but he made the man I am [today]."
Many top-class prizefighters have hailed from France over the years, with Georges Carpentier and Marcel Cerdan among the biggest names in Gallic boxing folklore.
Guerfi is hoping to cement his own name in the boxing history books by one day unifying the bantamweight division. However his story could have been very different, for he admits he has endured a love/hate relationship with the sport.
"I did not really like it [to start with]," he says. "But over time the love for this sport has invaded me. Boxing came to me at 14 but I really liked this sport when I was 17, I had a small amateur career, only 17 fights and I went pro, amateur boxing did not please me."
Guerfi has racked up 26 wins since turning pro in 2006, winning national titles at fly and bantamweight as well as his two spells as EBU ruler. However a boxing career could be compared to a rollercoaster - along with its ups you are almost always guaranteed downs and for Guerfi they have come in the form of three losses.
"My best moments were my victories in the European Championship [EBU title] and my victory in the USA [against Alejandro Gonzalez Jr in November 2015] in front of the FoxSports channel - it was magic! My biggest disappointment was my defeat against [Juan Carlos] Reveco in Argentina [for the interim WBA flyweight title].
On 20 April in Singapore, Guerfi will enter the ring again and look to move one step closer to a world title by fighting for the IBO crown against Filipino Michael Dasmarinas.
The bantamweight is fully aware of the rewards this opportunity could present to him. "I want this title to take me to a world title of one of the four biggest federations [WBA, WBO, WBC, IBF], I want one of these belts, it's time for me. My ambition is simple, it is to become world champion.
"I want to thank all the fans," Guerfi adds. "Because without them we are nothing, they continue to follow me to the end, I will not disappoint the fans."