BRADFORD Muay Thai prodigy Sohail Khan will be hunting his first title tonight when he takes on reigning English champion Dan Morley.

Khan’s title tilt will be only his five professional bout and his first main event as he headlines the Diamond Fight 7 show in Banbury. His rapid acceleration to championship class has propelled the Abusins Muay Thai prospect into the path of experienced title holder Morley, but the 23 year old holds no doubts heading into the contest.

“I really respect Dan,” said Khan. “He’s had three times the number of fights I’ve had, he’s a good champion and I know this will be the toughest fight of my career so far but it’s nights like these that brought me into the sport and I want this to be the first of many. I’ve had another great camp and my team-mates and coaches have pushed me every step of the way. There’s a saying that ‘iron sharpens iron’ and that’s definitely the mentality in our gym. We have such a strong team of fighters - all with their own styles and strengths - and our gym has a reputation for the tough sparring. I won’t underestimate Dan in any way but I plan to be in great physical shape and whatever he throws at me, I’ll be ready.”

Since opening his gym on Killinghall Road, Khan’s coach, Alex Abusin, has been quietly assembling a talented team of up-and-coming young fighters. Having held the English title himself, Abusin understands the scale of the challenge facing his young fighter but he is dismissive of any suggestion that the opportunity may have come a little too soon for his protege.

“People can talk all they want about this only being Sohail’s fifth fight, but what they don’t see is what goes on behind closed doors in the gym. I’ve seen Sohail grow so much since he walked through the door a few years back. He’s such a determined young man - he lives and breathes this sport and makes all the sacrifices he needs to be a champion. He’s given a taste of what he’s capable of in each of his fights so far but he’s really benefitted from having a little bit of time away from competition and he’s going to be a different animal on Saturday night.”

Khan himself is not looking beyond his opponent on Saturday but he struggled to hide some of his own short term goals: “The support I’ve had from family, friends, sponsors and the local community has been unreal. There’s going to a convoy of people travelling down south from Bradford on Saturday and I’m determined to bring back the belt for them and - hopefully - defend the title on home turf.”