When you pick up a nickname like “Tyson” on your first day in the gym then there’s no doubting your boxing potential. 

That was the case for Oldham’s rising star Aqib Fiaz. 

The decorated amateur, and now unbeaten professional, only took up the sport at the age of eight to lose some weight and keep himself out of trouble. 

But ever since walking into Northside ABC he hasn’t looked back and the sky looks to be the limit according to many experts in the fight game.  

“I remember going into the gym the first time,” says Fiaz, still only 19 and a baby in boxing terms. 

“I was only eight years old, was overweight but needed to stop getting into trouble. 

“I was invited to spar, jumped in and hurt three different kids with body shots. 
“I was Tyson from then on.”

The Oldham Times: Fiaz in action last time out in Manchester. Picture: Karen Priestley PhotographyFiaz in action last time out in Manchester. Picture: Karen Priestley Photography

Another top town fighter Mark Heffron, who has won 22 of 23 professional fights and returns on the Josh Warrington-Kid Galahad undercard next month, was among those to make the nickname stick. 

Not only did Fiaz get the boxing bug after walking into the Clayton gym but it turned out he was pretty good at it. 

A nine-team area champion for starters, he also boxed for England, won a national youth title at 60kg, picked up medals at box cups around the world and in total only lost around a dozen of “70 or 80 amateur fights”. 

So there was a chance then of reaching the very top of the unpaid code? 

Fiaz was part of the Team GB pathway but an Olympic opportunity and stardom before even moving over to the paid ranks came at the wrong time. 

The former Waterhead Academy student certainly found a different and equally exciting path, linking up with 2018 trainer of the year Jamie Moore and well respected manager Steve Wood of VIP Promotions. 

“The squad for 2020 was picked by the time I got close,” says Fiaz, currently a lightweight who is likely to campaign at super-featherweight in the long run.  
“It was then about waiting around for the 2024 games. 

“I was on the ladder and would have been under consideration but by that point I would have been 25 and it was too late. 

“I decided to turn pro and Steve was Jamie’s manager when he was fighting and trusts him. 

“I’ve got a great team behind me.”

It’s not just any stable that the Oldham prospect has joined. 

The Oldham Times: Aqib Fiaz with Carl FramptonAqib Fiaz with Carl Frampton

He’s walked into a gym that includes former two-weight world champion Carl Frampton, Rocky Fielding, who lost to Mexican great Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez last time out in December, perennial contender Martin Murray and world ranked Jack Catterall among others.

Fiaz’s professional debut didn’t come until a hometown points win over Ibrar Riyaz at the Oldham Leisure Centre in March but several months prior to that he was helping Frampton prepare for his world title bid against Warrington. 

Not only did the new kid on the block learn plenty but the Northern Irish great was left tipping him for the top.

“I first sparred Carl last November for the Warrington fight,” says Fiaz, who is juggling his professional boxing career with a degree in sports science at Manchester Metropolitan University. 

“I was with him for the whole camp and I learned more in those six of seven weeks that in years previous to that. 

“That’s no disrespect to anyone, that’s just how good a fighter he is. 

“It’s a great gym and everyone in there is happy. 

“To keep all those fighters happy you’ve got to be a good coach and every one of us is loving it. 

“Jamie’s such a professional.”

Fiaz’s second professional outing came at the start of the month, an all-action fight seeing him make it two of two with a 39-38 win over the dangerous Ben Fields from Birmingham after four rounds that delighted the crowd at the Victoria Warehouse in Manchester. 

“I think he fights at light middle sometimes which is four or five weight classes above me,” he said. 

“I knew it was going to be a scrappy fight but was 100 per cent confident and knew I had the skills to beat him. 

“I did drop a round, 100 per cent, I can’t argue with that.  

“But I’m learning on the job and I learned a lot more from that fight than I did the first one. 

“It was the kind of fight the fans want to see. I sold 250 tickets for that one and 350 for my debut so it’s good for them to be entertained.”

His training may have toned down since his second victory due to Ramadan, but Fiaz wants to keep busy. 

The plan is to be out again by the end of the summer, in July or August, and he’s hoping to make it four or five fights before the end of his first calendar year as a professional. 

As for the aim in the long term, both fighter and trainer are pretty clear about how high they are aiming. 

“Jamie’s said and I’ve said it – I want to be a world champion,” Fiaz said. 

“Anything less than that and I won’t be happy. It might sound a bit cliched but it’s true. 

“Jamie’s even saying he thinks I can do it within three years which I’m buzzing about to be honest. 

“For me to say that is one thing but with all the experience he’s got he’s got the leverage to say it and for people to listen.”