Bilal Fawaz has already been involved in some incredible battles outside the ring during his life – and he finally gets the chance to battle inside the ring when he makes his professional debut on Friday’s huge #MTKFightNight.

Fawaz makes his debut against Vladimir Fleischhauer as part of the stacked card headlined by Danny Dignum’s WBO European middleweight title defence at York Hall in London this week, which will be broadcast live in the US on ESPN+ in association with Top Rank, and worldwide on IFL TV.

It’s been a difficult journey for Fawaz, who has overcome incredible adversity in his life, beginning when he was trafficked as a 14-year-old into the UK from Nigeria, and placed into modern slavery.

After managing to escape from where he was being kept and turning to boxing, Fawaz has since been battling with the home office, but with that now hopefully all behind him, he’s ready to enter the paid ranks.

Fawaz said: “I was trafficked to the UK when I was a kid at 14. I came here as a slave and I was kept in a house that I couldn’t leave. I eventually escaped, and when I was 17 I walked into a boxing gym for the first time.

“I had demons inside of me that I had to let out. I never knew that I had talent, but I knew I had passion and I always give 110% in anything I do. I had a lot of success in the amateurs, but then I was battling with the home office because they were looking to deport me.

“We’ve been battling with them for 19 years, and that finally ended last year, and now I’m finally able to have my first professional fight at the age of 33.

“I’ve had a lot of ups and downs. At times I was sleeping on the streets or sleeping in the gym. A lot has happened to me and there have been times when I considered giving up, but I kept telling myself to get up and keep going.

“It’s vital that I succeed in boxing as this is the path that I have chosen to open the doors for me. I’m making my debut on Friday and then I want more fights and I want to keep going up the ranks. MTK Global have given me a chance and I’m delighted to be part of the team. I will make them proud.”

By Millicent Penamang