Haithem “The Flash” Laamouz (17-1, 7 KOs) of Malta scored an upset and the biggest win of his professional career this past December 4th. He defeated local favorite Mario Alfano (15-2-1, 4 KOs) of Italy by decision to win the vacant EBU European Union super featherweight title. The 12 round main event took place at the Palaboxe Aurelio Santoro, in Roma, Lazio, Italy. It was an overall exciting bout with a lot of good exchanges. Alfano attempted to come on strong down the stretch but the resilient Laamouz stood his ground in route to his hard-earned unanimous decision. The three official judges all saw it in his favor 116-112 twice and 115-113.
It is hard enough to win a fight as the visiting fighter. In the current global state of boxing, the preparation to have a proper training camp for an upcoming fight can be a battle in itself for many fighters. Laamouz knows this better than about anyone having had to be really creative and discipline in preparation for his last fight. The local community rallied behind him as well knowing the significance of what a victory would mean for Laamouz and Malta.
How did you go about preparation for this last fight with limited access to full proper training?
Great question. Like everybody around the world, the pandemic seriously affected my ability to train. First and for most the shutting down of the local gym limited the possibilities to train and more significantly to spar. The second factor is the fact that I live on a beautiful but relatively small Mediterranean island so most any travel requires a flight. My coach of choice in the UK had just tested positive for Covid. Travel was so restricted that it became impossible to bring in or me travel to resources that I would have liked.
In the end my manager Patrick Schaerrer and I decided that the way to handle this was to build my stamina, strength, and my natural speed. The best boxers in Malta and trainers also supported me. The community really rallied behind me and gave me the motivation and inspiration I needed to compensate for any missing elements. It was a gamble but it worked. Hard work, discipline, and not letting the situation mess with my head was key during my preparation for this fight.
How did you get the nickname The Flash?
I got it back in 2012 while running with the boys from the gym. I was the fastest in running and with the speed of my punches. So they awarded me the nickname after the famed superhero the Flash.
With regards to your last fight. What was going through your mind as you were awaiting the official judges scorecards to be read?
I was terrified. I knew I had rocked it and was very confident about my own performance. However, I was fighting a Roman in Rome on his home turf with two Italian officials. Whenever a bout goes to points it is nerve racking. I would like to thank the judges, officials, and referee for their absolute professional integrity.
You boxed Alfano but you also stood and exchanged with him as well. Did you feel physically stronger than him?
Yes. Especially in the later rounds when his endurance started to fade. As preparation I studied him closely. My strategy of switching tactics and intensity every 4 rounds worked.
What fights are you now looking for following this last victory?
As champion, I want to keep my crown and look forward to hearing from any interested challengers out there. However, as a fighter I want to keep attacking and thus I look most forward to continuing my climb up the world rankings. This can be the Americas, Europe, or Asia. Wherever the best opportunities may present themselves.
There is not a huge history in boxing for Malta. What was the reception for you upon your return following your last fight?
It was awesome! Camera crews, family, and friends were waiting for me at the airport upon my arrival. The local media has also inundated me with interviews and features. For our island, I achieved something great. Something that has never been done before by another fighter from our country. I am proud to carry our flag onwards.
When do you think you will be ready to return to the ring?
I am already back in training and sparring as well. Within the next two to three weeks I would definitely be ready to go to camp. By February I will be ready for any challenge that comes my way.