ABASS BARAOU had not planned to open a flood of emotions after winning the European super-welterweight title on March 1.

The 29-year-old got his hands on a title which had made years of waiting for his big chance all worth it. And beating Sam Eggington, one of Britian’s toughest fighters, in the process required maximum effort over 12 rounds inside the Telford International Centre where neither man wanted to yield.

In the end Baraou’s quality shone through and in the moments after hearing those three magic words, “And the new…” he sat down ringside for the customary post-fight interview. Having commentated on the fight Channel 5’s Dave Farrar’s next job was to interview the new European champion. Baraou was visibly emotional, and it didn’t take long for Farrar to notice the state he was in. And rather than push for answers like some would have he showed compassion and ended the interview allowing the away fighter to go back to his team and gather himself.

Speaking to Boxing News Baraou reflected on the win and that moment when as the fighter he dropped his guard to share what becoming European champion meant to him.

“It had been quiet for a long time,” he said of his career before facing Eggington.

“When you’re a fighter you need to fight. When you’re not in the ring it’s mentally tough so you need to be strong and patient for the opportunity and to be back on the stage again.”

Looking back at the interview with Farrar, Baraou said: “It was relief after having that performance on the night and becoming European champion. I had to overcome this to continue my journey as a professional fighter. It was emotional. It felt like a very, very long road to the European title. I was just happy to have achieved such a big performance on the night and becoming European champion.”

While he waited for his breakout chance and the phone to ring, he conducted himself like any solid professional would. Baraou kept up his strong work ethic keeping any emotion beneath the surface. Winning the European title, just like the emotion he displayed, has now released him.

“There was no time to think or to doubt yourself whatsoever. I’m on a mission,” Baraou said.

“I was really emotional [after the fight]. It felt like I reactivated myself into boxing and proved myself on the big stage. I know I’ve done this, it’s what I was waiting for, and the emotion came out. I’m not that big a crier.”

“I had to do it on national TV,” he laughed.

The last time he did shed a tear was seven years ago having lost a World Amateur Championship semi-final against Roniel Iglesias. A busy 2017 had led Baraou to as many tournaments as he could get to. A performance he described as “tough” wasn’t enough to get him through to the final and the gold medal he wanted.

“And all the emotion came out. I was drained,” he said.

“I’d won most of the tournaments. At the end I was empty, but I know I could do better. After that I quickly reviewed the fight and I know it was just a bad day. I was empty of energy. I don’t take it personal. I could have done more, but it’s a fight I learned from. That loss turned out to be a big part in my career. I didn’t get it right before I turned pro but it’s not something I look back on and be ashamed of.”

The only blemish on Baraou’s professional record came against Jack Culcay in 2020. Their clash behind closed doors, during the Covid-19 pandemic, at Havelstudios in Charlottenburg, Berlin saw the Ecuadorian born German Culcay get the nod on a split decision.

On Saturday night (April 6) “Golden Jack” bids to replace middleweight Vincenzo Gualtieri as Germany’s only male boxing world champion when he challenges for the vacant IBF super-welterweight title against Bakhram Murtazaliev. The Russian is unbeaten in 21 contests and starts as a strong odd-on favourite to beat Culcay in Germany.

“Culcay hasn’t really been in any big fights since we fought,” Baraou said.

“I don’t know why. He’s also getting older. If he pulls off a big performance and becomes world champion [then] for me, I could get my revenge and that’s what I’m looking for.”

Baraou now has a welcome dilemma for once. His European title – which is in the possession of his mother at her home in Uberhausen – is something he would like to defend. But there is the goal of becoming a world champion. Activity is the immediate priority for Baraou who is ranked number two with the WBA, one spot behind Vergil Ortiz Jr.

The super-welterweight division is a talented pack of boxers who all seem capable of beating one another. Brian Mendoza beat Sebastian Fundora but lost to Tim Tszyu who lost to Fundora last Saturday in their unified championship clash. Serhii Bohachuk boosted his own career on the same show in Las Vegas at the expense of Mendoza.

Meanwhile last month Isrial Madrimov caught the eye disposing of Magomed Kurbanov in only five rounds to win the WBA title at 154lbs.

“It was really one-sided,” Baraou said of Madrimov’s win.

“I expected more from Kurbanov, but it was one-sided. You can’t really say much about the fight. Madrimov’s technically strong and he just run him over.”

“He’s talented and has quite good amateur experience as well,” he added. “He’s technical, he’s powerful but everybody can be beat. I’ve got the experience. I don’t see him as unbeatable.”

So, a possible rematch against Jack Culcay or going to Uzbekistan to challenge Madrimov are potential options. But what does Abaou realistically believe will be his next fight after a positive start to 2024.

“What could happen is me fighting Madrimov. I’m happy to do that and that would be an easy fight to make as well. I’m ready to go to Uzbekistan. If that happens things (negotiations) won’t be long in the making.

“If that opportunity didn’t pop up and I had to do a European title defence to keep me busy and active, I’d do that. I don’t want to wait around. I’ve had long periods of inactivity. I want to be busy and keep moving forward. It’s the perfect time for me to get my shot at Madrimov right away. If that fight is difficult to make or they do the [Vergil] Ortiz fight I’m happy to stay in the line.”