THE Olympic dream is over for Bradford boxer Harris Akbar, but he is putting his Paris heartbreak behind him and is now looking ahead to a professional career.

The 25-year-old had been targeting this summer’s Games for years, but was unable to get the wins he needed at qualifying events to make it.

It looked as if the Bradfordian would have one last chance in Bangkok later this month, but Lewis Richardson was chosen ahead of him for that final qualifier in Thailand.

That means all roads to Paris are now closed for Akbar, who told the T&A: “There are no more qualifiers left for me now Lewis has been picked ahead of me.

“I feel I was unlucky though, and that I deserved to go out there, but it’s a board that choose with a voting system and they’ve made their decision.”

Akbar had been in reasonable form, reaching the final of the Tammer Tournament in Finland in November before making the semis at the World Boxing Cup in Colorado last month.

But he lost both of those, and perhaps that cost him his shot at a place in Paris this summer.

The Bradford talent reflected: “It’s always like that, you’re fighting at hard level.

“I’m regularly going up against people who are in the top-10 in my weight division, and I’ve been up there in the rankings myself.

“They’re nearly always close fights at amateur level, which often end in a split decision.”

Akbar will not be heading out to Paris for the Olympics as a fan, choosing to instead remain in the UK and focus on the next stage of his boxing career.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Harris Akbar has plenty left to offer as a boxer, and he wants to make a fast start to his upcoming professional career.Harris Akbar has plenty left to offer as a boxer, and he wants to make a fast start to his upcoming professional career. (Image: Newsquest.)

He said: “It’s time to earn the big bucks now and turn professional, so let’s just see what happens once I do that.

“I’ve always wanted to make that jump into the professional ranks, and I know I’ve got the CV and good record at amateur level to do that now.

“I don’t want to mess around now I’m turning professional, and I want to win a title soon.”

Despite its heartbreaking end, the Bradford ace is proud of the career he had in the amateur ranks, the highlight of which was him becoming European Champion out in Armenia in 2022.

Akbar told the T&A: “I finished up having 199 fights as an amateur, winning most of them.

“It was a good grounding for me in boxing and I’m happy to walk away from it with the resume I had.

“I’ll always remember winning at the European Championships fondly, as it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and achievement.

“There are only three Englishmen who’ve been European Champion in the last 60 years (the others being Luke Campbell in 2008 and Peter McGrail in 2017), which shows just how tough it was to do what I did.

“I like to think I stayed level-headed at that tournament and throughout my amateur career.

“It’s nice to walk away from that now, achieving what I did, and I can now look forward to the next part of my career.”