“It started when a buddy of mine sent a sparring tape to Eddy [Reynoso],” said Bilal Akkawy (17-0, 14 KOs), chief sparring partner to Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, the hard-hitting Aussie brought his talents to the states to help the Mexican superstar prepare for his showdown with Kazakh heavy-hitter, Gennady Golovkin this Saturday, September 15 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The 25-year-old Super Middleweight was initially brought in to spar with Alvarez in preparation for Alvarez’s rematch with Golovkin back in May. Due to Alvarez’s positive tests for clenbuterol, the fight was not able to take place and is now scheduled for this upcoming Saturday.
Akkawy was first recruited after a friend sent the training duo of Eddy and Chepo Reynoso some footage of him sparring. After being brought in to display his talents for Alvarez in person, Akkawy wasn’t sure if he’d hear back.
“I went in not knowing what to expect,” said Akkawy. “I expected Canelo to be with a tremendous entourage and the gym to be filled with people, but that wasn’t the case.”
Akkawy would quickly learn that this wasn’t the same run of the mill sparring sessions he had encountered in the past with other fighters. “Canelo is easily the best and smartest fighter I’ve come across,” said Akkawy. “Everything is calculated and you have to stay completely focused when you’re fighting him.”
Akkawy made little adjustments to his style to emulate the one of Gennady Golovkin. “My style is very similar to that of GGG,” said Akkawy. “I’ve always been a natural aggressor and I prefer to get in there and fight.”
From first gaining recognition on the undercard of Anthony Mundine bouts, to chief sparring partner in Alvarez’s camp, Akkawy has quickly become one of the top names out of Australia. Despite the added recognition, Akkawy keeps himself grounded, not letting his focus steer away from his continued success.
“I know this is a great opportunity for me,” said Akkawy. “It’s been able to help boost my profile and I get some great experience being able to fight and learn from someone like Canelo.”
Akkawy grew up being trained by his father and uncle, the former being a pro fighter as well. Now, Akkawy is fully committed to team Canelo and is now under the tutelage of Eddy Reynoso.
Akkawy will also make his U.S. debut the same week as Canelo-GGG 2, fighting at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino this Thursday, September 13 as part of a Golden Boy Promotions card headlined by Super Lightweight fighters, Pablo Cesar Cano taking on Ruslan Madiev.
Header photo courtesy of Bilal Akkawy on Instagram
Peter Nieves is a sports journalist who's been writing for Round By Round Boxing since 2012. When he's not covering the sweet science, he's busy twirling his mustache and writing a screenplays. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram @pnieves90