South Yorkshire boxing: Rotherham v Sheffield derby...in Birmingham
Kash Ali says he will put his friendship for David Howe aside on Saturday and beat him in a battle of South Yorkskhire heavyweights.
Unbeaten Ali, from Rotherham, takes on Sheffielder Howe, at the Genting Arena, Birmingham.
The pair did most of their early training side-by-side at the Ingle gym before moving off in varying directions.
They sparred countless rounds. But this time, it’s for real, as the pair contest the Central area title.
For Ali, the 10 rounder should end a frustrating period - he has broken the same hand twice which has meant months of convalescence. He hasn’t boxed since October, 2016.
While Howe, 37, who has an inferior W 14 L 7 record, has been busier, fighting six times in that period.
Ali is the favourite but knows he won’t have it all his own way.
“The injuries seems to have been never-ending but now I’m back I’m going in the deep-end for a title against David, who has been more active.
“It has been really frustrating watching everybody else fighting but my hand is fixed now. We trained together at the Ingles and have fought on the same shows and we’re friendly with each other.
“I’ll give him a hug when it’s all over - but there’ll only be one winner and that’s me.”
Howe is three inches taller at a giant 6ft 8ins, but Ali says: “I am not bothered about that, we have had good spars together but I have been sparring hard and am fully prepared for this.
“I believe in my own power so I am just going to get in there and, as for a stoppage, we’ll just see how it goes.”
Ali, 26, who has three KOs on his record, has family and friends in Birmingham, where he was born.
The show was supposed to be headlined by Kell Brook-victim Frankie Gavin, but the Brummie has had to pull out of a planned IBO Welterweight world title fight after a sponsor withdrew.