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Akeem Ennis-Brown says he is Britain's most wanted champion but now wants the attention of world class rivals

"Everyone wants their shot now. I just sat there smiling," Akeem Ennis-Brown reveals how domestic rivals are queuing up to challenge him after he claimed British and Commonwealth super-lightweight titles

Akeem Ennis-Brown
Image: Akeem Ennis-Brown is the British and Commonwealth super-lightweight champion

Akeem Ennis-Brown noticed an immediate change after becoming British and Commonwealth Champion - the phone started ringing.

Before Ennis-Brown beat Philip Bowes last September to take the super-lightweight titles, he was an unbeaten contender who appeared to offer an unattractive proposition, a probable defeat for a modest pay day.

But with the belts, the Gloucester fighter nicknamed Riiddy Riiddy Rival, became wanted overnight.

"The offers are flooding in," Ennis-Brown told Sky Sports. "Before I got the titles, I was avoided in the super-lightweight division. I couldn't get any fights. Then I was made mandatory, won the titles and the next day the offers were flooding it and it felt good.

"Everyone wants their shot now. I just sat there smiling. To go from the most avoided to the most wanted, it's a nice feeling."

Ennis-Brown is yet to defend his titles because injury scuppered his date with another unbeaten Englishman, Sam Maxwell in March. But, make no mistake, he has no sense of having reached his destination. Riiddy Riiddy Rival is just getting warmed up.

"Winning the British and Commonwealth titles, a lot of fighters would be like, 'we made it, we done it.' For me, I feel like it's just started," Ennis-Brown declared.

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"Now the real fun begins, the real game. Why would I slow up now? I want to go all the way so I'm going to give it all I've got.

"After every fight, I try to up my game even more. I see myself as a challenger, I haven't got all the belts yet. When I fight for a world title, I'm going to up my game to a whole other level."

Akeem Ennis-Brown
Image: Ennis-Brown has risen to the top of the domestic scene

The titles have also sparked a redoubling of efforts from Ennis-Brown's support team, including his long-term trainer Jon Pittman who's steered his career from boyhood sessions at The Fight Factory in Gloucester, to domestic dominance.

"What I love is that my whole team are raising their level too," Ennis-Brown.

"My trainer Jon, my sponsors, my nutrition people. Especially Jon, he lives for this, and I always say to him, 'Don't think this is it, we have way more to go, you know!'

"He knows it, he's said 'We've got the Europeans to go for, the worlds to go for,' and we've got to keep on learning, keep adjusting as we go."

Champions almost inevitably inspire young people, but the straps have brought acclaim closer to home for Ennis-Brown too. His four-year-old boy, Kardelle, has been bedazzled by the belts, but with dad's ambitions reset at a higher level, there hasn't been as much time for father-son fun.

"He knows I'm the champ. The only difference I think he notices though is that daddy is working harder. He doesn't see me less. But from early in the morning, I'm in the gym. Late at night I'm in the gym. So when I'm in camp, I don't really get to see him as much as I would like to," Ennis-Brown reflected candidly.

"So I have to let him know, 'Daddy is doing this for you right now,' and as much as I would like to spend more time with my son, it's got to be done. At first I don't think he understood it, but he's starting to understand it. He definitely understands it when I win a big fight and he gets to go on a shopping spree at the toy store!"

Ennis-Brown may boast only one knockout win from his 14 victorious fights to date, but he's confident of handling Maxwell, who has collected 11 wins by stoppage in a record of 15-0.

"I like a challenge. From the list of potential opponents, I wanted the hardest one, and Sam Maxwell is an undefeated fighter, so I said I'll give him his shot as a voluntary.

"That fell through, but I don't want to miss out on that one because I want to challenge myself. He's the one I want to beat to show the British public and I am the champion, to cement the titles."

Establishing domestic supremacy against Maxwell - Ennis-Brown believes this will happen before summer's out - is the next step on a journey set on a destination of world title success.

Sandro Martin, the European Champion, is on Riiddy's radar, but he would only take that fight on British soil.

As for global success, Ennis-Brown doesn't foresee undisputed, undefeated champion Josh Taylor to still be mixing it in the 140-pound division when he himself reaches the rarefied air of world level.

But he would embrace the challenge of tackling Regis Prograis, the American edged by Taylor in their epic encounter in London in 2019.

Regis Prograis
Image: Regis Prograis is an ideal opponent, says Ennis-Brown

"One hundred per cent I'd take the Prograis fight. I'm down for all the best fighters and I'm down for that," he said emphatically.

Global glory could yet come for Ennis-Brown, but his local legacy is already secure and growing. Not only is his story countering the stereotypical depiction of Gloucester as a 'rugby city', he's also challenging the perception that it's an agricultural, white community, far from the cultural cutting edge of modern Britain.

"People say Gloucester is a rugby city. But rugby is only interesting, if you're interested in rugby," Ennis-Brown said.

"But boxing is worldwide. If you can do something for your city in boxing, the city is happy to say 'We have a British and Commonwealth champ.

"The whole city is starting to take on boxing. Loads more gyms have opened. Lots of people are turning pro. Give me five years and Gloucester is going to be a boxing city.

"It's not just a farm town. There are many people from different races, religions, all types of people. It's really welcoming, for everyone. It's a nice city, even though it's small, it's a nice community and it's safe."

Six years into his pro career, Akeem Ennis-Brown is making fast, if not explosive, progress through boxing's super lightweight rankings.

Knockouts may or may not arrive, but several astute pundits are predicting a steady flow of Ws for the 25-year-old who is putting Gloucester on the map.

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