Ermal Hadribeaj says the ‘Albanian takeover’ in boxing has already begun and he plans to secure a shot at a world super-welterweight title by next year.
The 27-year-old contender extended his unbeaten record to 10 victories this month, sealing a hard-fought points victory over Thodoris Ritzakis to claim a WBC ranking belt.
With Florian Marku also becoming a welterweight champion in October, Hadribeaj believes Albania’s boxers have emerged as serious challengers for the world’s top fighters.
“For me now, this is the dream, this is the goal, to become a world champion,” Hadribeaj told Sky Sports.
“We were watching Florian Marku. I was very excited about him and he had a very tough fight.
“He did well, he handled it, and he won. For Albania, it was a big win, for all of us. It put Albania on the map and I was very excited.
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“Yes, this is definitely the start of the Albanian takeover. Him and me and the other Albanian guys. I think we’re going to grow up from the Albanian community and put this name on top of the list.
“I would love to fight in Britain. With this last fight that I had, if it was in the same stadium as Florian Marku fought, I’m 100 per cent sure that people would have gone crazy.”
Hadribeaj has described himself as ‘The Albanian Lomachenko’, having been inspired by the Ukrainian star’s southpaw skills, but he also displayed his battling spirit against Ritzakis.
I was prepared to go not 10, but 15 rounds with him.
“The fight became very dirty,” said Hadribeaj. “He started leaning on me, holding, using elbows, pushing down my head. He was getting frustrated because I was out-boxing him.
“I found a solution. I used a lot of angles, which surprised him, and I rocked him three or four times, but he didn’t give up.
“I was prepared to go not 10, but 15 rounds with him. I’m very happy that I handled it well and showed another side of me.”
Hadribeaj, who has already fought four times in America this year, is confident he can secure a bout against one of the division’s biggest names after taking a step towards a WBC title fight.
“It’s very important for me, this belt will put me in a good ranking,” said Hadribeaj.
“With my skills, with my movement, with my toughness, and as a southpaw, I think opponents will be very, very scared.
I think by next year it may happen. Hopefully we will get a big title shot.
“I’m going to keep myself busy, because it’s the only way.
“Keeping motivated, being strong, being in shape all the time.”