By Anthony Cocks
Melbourne lightweight Qamil Balla 12-1-1 (5) is looking forward to returning to the ring for his first fight in over a year when he takes on tough Indonesian veteran Hero Tito 27-14-2 (11) at the Grandstar Reception & Convention Centre in Altona North in Victoria, Australia on Saturday, May 4.
The 29-year-old was last in action when he decisioned Adam Diu Abdulhamid over eight rounds at the same venue in March last year. During his last excursion to Australia three years ago Tito held the well-credentialed Will Tomlinson to a majority decision.
“I’ve just seen a bit of him here and there,” Balla said. “I know he gave a tough fight to Will, but it’s the type of fight I need right now to propel me up the ranks, get a good hit out and to get me ready to fry some bigger fish. I would never overlook anybody.”
Balla says he isn’t expecting any ring rust despite remaining inactive since the Abdulhamid fight.
“Not at all. I had three months off because I broke my knuckle in my last fight. Then I was back in training camp looking to get a fight before the end of the year, then again at the start of this year,” he said.
“So basically I’ve been sparring and training for a good half a year trying to get a fight and finally got one through Prince Promotions.
The Albanian-Australian enjoyed a successful amateur career that saw him log 62 wins from 70 starts including five national titles and winning a number of international tournaments along with a first-round victory at the World Titles. Balla also had an amateur rivalry Jeff Horn, splitting a pair of fights with the future WBO welterweight champion.
At 5-foot-10 Balla is at the taller end of the scale for a 135-pounder and is considering a move up to the junior welterweight division where he won the national crown against stablemate Jack Brubaker in 2013 before defending the title against Terry Tzouramanis the following year.
“The energy levels are one thing. I mean, I’m a professional and I can cut the weight and won’t complain, but at lightweight I don’t have the energy to burn compared to the higher weight,” Balla said.
Two years ago Balla suffered his lone professional loss when he dropped a 10 round decision to world-rated lightweight George Kambosos Jr in the semi-main event of Joseph Parker’s inaugural WBO heavyweight title defence against Razvan Cojanu in Manukau City, New Zealand.
“The experience leading up to the fight was awesome. My training camp was good, everything was flying. It just goes to show you can’t expect everything to go your way,” Balla said.
“You can have the best training camp in the world, everything goes 100% right, everyone tells you
you’re going to win, you’ve got it so easy, but it doesn’t turn out that way. You’ve got to concentrate more so on the task at hand rather than just tackling the head of the problem, if you know what I mean.”
Ever the pragmatist, Balla worked through the loss and believes it gave him the wake-up call he needed to progress with his career.
“Kambosos’ talking was on another level. You can’t really prepare for that,” Balla said. “But it was a very good test to get me prepared for other challenges down the line. It showed me I have to stay focused and not get frustrated if I have to chase someone around the ring.”
Balla credits his longtime manager Mike Altamura for keeping his career ticking over as he pushes for a spot in the world ratings.
“He’s the type of guy people aspire to be. Everyone wants to be ‘like Mike’. He is so well spoken, he’s got a degree and he’s good with people,” Balla said.
“He’s an adventurer to say the least. I often have to play ‘Where in the world is Mike Altamura’, you never know where that guy is. But he’s always got something to talk about from his global travels.”