Hungary isn’t known for having a rich history within boxing, but one man is currently bucking that trend and making a real name for himself.
We have previously looked at the likes of Istvan Kovacs and Karoly Balzsay, champions that have emerged from Hungary and impacted the worldwide boxing scene. Their names are known by hardcore fans of the sport, whether in or out of Hungary, and very soon, you may be able to add the name Balazs Bacskai, the new great hope for the Hungarian Boxing Federation.
Bacskai won a gold medal at the 2010 European Amateur Boxing Championships before competing in the 2016 summer Olympics, where he was eliminated in the round of 32. In 2017, he turned professional and has since gone on to win the vacant Hungarian Middleweight title before beating Nick Klappert in December for the vacant WBO Inter-Continental Super Welterweight title.
The 33-year-old hails from Budapest and currently has a record of 14 fights, 14 wins, and 8 by knockout. According to Boxing Scene, he is ranked 14th in line for a shot at the WBO Super Welterweight title, currently held by Brian Castano. Which fighters might stand in the way of Bacskai as he seeks to become one of the few Hungarian boxers to hold a world title? These are four of the notable names he might have to beat.
Sheeraz is 13th in line for a shot at the title and a possible future opponent for Bacskai. The 22-year-old has youth on his side, holding an 11-year advantage over the older Hungarian. Like his possible opponent, Sheeraz is undefeated, with 12 wins, 8 by knockout. He currently holds the WBO European Junior Middleweight title but has never fought outside of his home country.
Conwell is 12th in line for a shot at Castano’s title, and another Bacskai might face on his path towards the belt. Conwell is also undefeated and, like Sheeraz, much younger than Bacskai at just 23-years-old. He currently holds two belts, the WBC-USNBC Junior Middleweight title and the IBF-USBA Junior Middleweight title. Conwell is rising through the IBF and WBC ranks and may be focusing on Jermell Charlo, the WBC and IBF champion, rather than his WBO opponents.
30-year-old Anthony Fowler is a cousin of former Liverpool and England footballer Robbie Fowler, and the Liverpool born fighter would be a good fit for Bacskai’s next fight. He’s a 30-year-old with a professional record of 15 fights, 14 wins 11 by knockout. He won gold at the Commonwealth Games in 2014 and impressed in March as he knocked out Jorge Fortega in three rounds. His next bout is against seasoned veteran Roberto Garcia, which he is an overwhelming favourite with Bwin to win. After that, another Garcia stands in Fowler’s way, and that is who Bacskai might also wish to target. Interestingly, Fowler has a good record against Hungarians, having beaten Laszlo Fazekas on points in 2017 and stopping Gabor Gorbics inside five rounds in 2018.
Garcia, known as El Nino, might have been a better opponent for Fowler, and he would undoubtedly be a massive scalp for Bacskai if the Hungarian could tempt him into the ring. Garcia is 28 but is a veteran of 33 fights, all of which he has won. He is the current European Super Welterweight champion and is known for going the distance – 19 of his fights have been won on a points decision. The only aspect of Garcia’s record that raises questions is his ability to fight outside of Spain. He’s only once ventured beyond Spanish borders, beating Ted Cheeseman in London in February 2019.
Source: Article written in collaboration with Philip Schmidt