World title in sight as ambitious plans start to unfold
RESPECTED trainer Billy Hussein said undefeated Coast phenomenon Paul Fleming could be in line for a shock world title fight next year after dominating his ring comeback on Friday night.
Hussein, who trained former world champions Vic Darchinyan and Billy Dib, said the former Olympian's unanimous decision win over Indonesian Angky Angkotta in Perth showed he was ready to take the next step.
"The sky's the limit with this kid," Hussein said from the Western Australia capital.
"I expected him to be a lot rustier after 18 months out of the ring but he was sharp, having fun.
"He didn't take any punishment and his speed, his timing and his range were all right where they were before he took the break."
Hussein spoke to Fleming and his manager Mike Altamura about fighting for either a WBA or WBO world title fight in Macau next June.
Top Rank, the Bob Arum-run promotional company that looks after Fleming and superstars like Manny Pacquiao, is staging a number of fights in the Chinese gambling haven, including the Filipino star's showdown with American Chris Algieri today.
FLEMING (19-0 13 KOs) fought in Top Rank's Macau debut in April last year before taking 18 months off to return to the Sunshine Coast because his partner was experiencing problems while pregnant with the couple's second child.
The first step towards world title bout will be a regional title fight in February, Hussein said.
"We don't want to waste time with the kid and hopefully by midyear he's fighting for a world title," he said. "It will be one of the major sanctioning bodies - something like the WBA or the WBO."
Although the 26 year old has never fought for an international or regional title, Hussein believes Fleming's association with Top Rank will open the door.
"They are really making in-roads into Macau and that's where they want Paul," he said.
Hussein has no doubt Fleming has the ability and the experience to challenge the top super-featherweights in the world after watching his unanimous decision win on Friday night. The former Shamrock fighter proved too strong for Angkotta, who has contended for two major world titles, winning 79-73 on all three scorecards.
"There was a little bit of doubt because of the long layoff but after the first round I knew he was going to put on a masterclass," Hussein said.
"Like I said, he's special. Don't be surprised if by August or September if he's the world champion - the proper world champion."