Western suburbs boxer Ibrahim Balla is ready to take his talents to the world.
Balla has achieved just about all he can in Australia, in both amateur and professional ranks.
“I’ve pretty much conquered Australia,” Balla said. “I think it’s time to move on to the bigger titles and represent Australia in the professional ranks internationally.”
Of course, Balla is no stranger to the pressure of international competition.
The 27-year-old, who trains at The Gym Yarraville, had a decorated amateur career, making it all the way to the Olympic Games in London 2012, where he bowed out in the round of 16.
Balla turned professional in 2013 and has featured in 13 fights for a 12-1 record.
In three local title fights, Balla won the Victorian super bantamweight title, Australian super bantamweight title and the Australian featherweight title.
He clipped a hurdle in his first international professional title fight last year, losing to Neil John Tabanao, of the Philippines, in a challenge for the vacant WBO Oriental featherweight title, but that did not deter him.
“I definitely had a stumble,” said Balla, who lives in Rockbank.
“It just shows the type of character I am – after a defeat like that, to get back in the gym so quickly and have another fight.
“It makes you more hungry and more stronger as a person, mentally and physically.
“It makes you bite down on your mouth guard a bit harder and train harder and fight harder.”
Balla, who is trained by Lim Jeka and refined by strength and conditioning coach Dirk Lamb, has won his three fights since that defeat to Tabanao and is ready to hit the international stage again.
Hoppers Crossing-raised Balla will now square off with undefeated Tanzanian boxer Salimu Jengo for the vacant WBA Oceania featherweight title in the Punches at the Park 6 event at the Melbourne Park Function Centre on Saturday night.
If Balla can win this fight, he will move into the top 15 of the WBA rankings.
“I’m taking that step up the ladder and really excited for this fight to show my worth as a professional,” he said. “It motivates me more to get that title and also that top 15 spot.
“You can make big moves after that – it puts you in the spotlight internationally.
“But we’re not taking him lightly at all. We’re ready for pretty much anything on the night … if I’m at my best, I don’t think there’s anyone in the world that can beat me.”
Balla is looking forward to putting on a show for his home fans.
“We’ll get a big crowd from my hometown Melbourne and the western suburbs,” he said.
“I’ve had three good wins coming into this fight, so my confidence levels are at an all-time high right now and I think I’ll be able to produce the win on the night.”
Tickets are available through The Gym Yarraville.