TALKING to Quaise Khademi and Ijaz Ahmed, it soon becomes clear the last thing they want to do is fight each other again.
“It’s one of those things,” shrugged Ahmed after it was announced Warren Boxing Management will stage their fourth fight at the York Hall in Bethnal Green on Friday, December 2.
“It’s just something we have got to do.”
The reward is, the winner will call themselves British super-flyweight champion – if there is a winner, that is.
Of their three previous fights, Ahmed won the first on a majority points vote and the last two have ended in draws, including their clash in Telford in June.
Khademi would have won that fight had he not been docked a point in the ninth round for holding, while Ahmed is convinced he was a clear winner.
The 29 year old from Birmingham told [i]Boxing News[i]: “I don’t know how they gave it a draw. The whole fight, he was on the back foot. He must have run five or six miles in that fight. Every round I caught him with the cleaner shots. I don’t know what the judges were watching. I can’t believe that if they hadn’t taken a point off him I would have lost.”
Both fighters are agreed on one thing. They are sick of the sight of each other.
So keen was Khademi to get Ahmed out of the way, he was willing to dip into his own pocket.
The Afghanistan-born East Ender remembered: “He said after [the third fight]: ‘I don’t want to fight him again’ and I said the same.
“He wanted to come to my house as a guest. We weren’t going to fight again. Then he decided to fight me for a fourth time.
“I offered him step aside money out of my own pocket so I could fight Marcel Braithwaite instead.
“Deep down, I don’t think he wants the fight, but his team are pushing him. There was nowhere else for him to go.”
Ahmed says he was made an offer by Khademi, but that “it didn’t make any sense” to accept it.
“I couldn’t just give it away,” he added.
“If there was a situation where he could give me enough money, get me a fight and guarantee on paper he would step down if he won the British title, it could have happened, but nothing was guaranteed.”
The only guarantee is that Khademi-Ahmed IV is sure to be close – and watchable.
The fighters may not want the fight, but those who watch it should enjoy it.
The first fight between them went ahead behind closed doors at the BT Sport studios in February, 2021.
Ahmed was the front-foot aggressor, Khademi the boxer who loves to fight – and they produced a fight-of-the-year contender over 10 rounds for a sanctioning belt.
Ahmed won a majority vote – one judge had it level, the others had him one and two points up – after a fight that TV pundits Richie Woodhall and Josh Taylor had Khademi winning.
“Nobody would have guessed we would still be fighting each other after that first fight,” said Ahmed, but once Sunny Edwards vacated the British title, the Board paired them together again for the 115lbs belt.
For Woodhall, the rematch, in Birmingham last August, “eclipsed” the first fight
There were constant shifts throughout – sometimes two or three in the space of a round – and so close were most of the rounds, Woodhall felt the outcome could be decided in the final 10 seconds.
At the final bell, Khademi was up by a point on one card, Ahmed led by two on another and the third judge scored the fight a draw.
The third fight was set for last December before Khademi was ruled out with an Anterior Cruciate Ligament injury.
When the fight went ahead in June, Khademi had Richard Sawyer in his corner after splitting from John Tandy and stuck to the hit-and-move gameplan rather better than he did in the first two fights.
But he did too much holding for the referee and that cost him the fight.
Both fighters told BT Sport afterwards they had no interest in a fourth fight, but as Ahmed put it: “Circumstances mean it had to happen.”
Ahmed hopes the fight could happen 24 hours earlier than scheduled, on the undercard of the Tyson Fury-Dereck Chisora clash at Tottenham Hotspurs Stadium.
He said: ”I’ve sent a message to Queensberry [Promotions] to say: ‘Why not put it on the Fury show?’ It‘s never a dull fight between us.”
Ahmed says that wherever the fight goes ahead, it will end in a knockout.
He said: “I have beaten him three times already and I’m having to fight him again. It looks like I’m going to have to stop him this time.”
Khademi is in agreement, saying: “We have to end it for real this time.”