Gosport boxer Mateusz Bereznicki targeting Paris 2024 to fulfil his Olympic dream
Gosport-based Mateusz Bereznicki has his sights set on boxing at the Olympics - but he'll have to wait until Paris 2024 to get his chance to do so.
The Polish powerhouse, 20, who claimed both the under-23 and senior elite heavyweight titles in his home nation last year, has no chance of qualifying to compete at the delayed Tokyo Games this summer despite his double success.
Unfortunately for the Gosport Amateur Boxing Club fighter, Olympic entry for what will be a unique Games can only be secured through the European Championships that took place in 2019 - at which point he was still a youth boxer.
Usually, Olympics places are won through a world qualifying event, but that competition had to be cancelled because of the pandemic.
It's a blow for Bereznicki who, after beating Tomasz Niedzwiecki in the Polish senior elite heavyweight final in 2020, became the youngest boxer - aged just 19 - in his home country to achieve such an accolade.
But despite not being able to make it to Tokyo, Big Bez is keen to keep showing his potential after a superb first year on the senior elite stage.
'The Tokyo Olympics was my goal but the thing that’s happened is they’ve cancelled the world qualifiers and that’s the only way I could have qualified myself for them,' he said.
‘But I’m top spot for the 2024 Games in Paris because I’ve beaten everyone so it’s me as the number one considered for it.
'I’m still young and want to go to the Olympics because that’s every amateur boxer's dream.
‘It’s a lot harder now because you’ve got to qualify a few times, it’s hard but I can definitely do it.'
The former Bay House School pupil showcased his potential again in his homeland in a recent televised fight.
Bereznicki defeated Ukranian Vitali Burlak on a Suzuki show in Poland that was broadcast live earlier this month.
It was his 14th fight since stepping up to senior level just over a year ago; he's won all but one of them with defeat coming against Welsh champion Aaron Bird in February 2020.
Bereznicki has had no problems making the move into the men's ranks after a promising youth career where he was a two-time NABGC winner as well as collecting junior development and youth cadet titles.
The Pole is now preparing to return to England ahead of the European under-22 Championships in May where he hopes to perform on the big stage again.
‘Hopefully this year they’ll open everything and I’ll have a little advantage over everyone because I’ve had fights,' he added.
‘I’m coming back to England and hopefully I’ll go to the Euro under-22s in May which are in Italy. We’ll see if that actually happens because they’ve been rescheduled a few times.
‘I take little steps. I don’t think about waiting for world championships, waiting for the Olympics or waiting to turn pro and be a world champion - I like to take it in little steps.
‘I think focusing on one little goal at a time will lead to the big goal at the end, hopefully.'
Bereznicki is in the process of gaining British citizenship and is hoping to join the Army to continue his boxing training.
He is pushing to add the English elite title to his Polish crown in the next year - should the amateur scene get back up and running this year after lockdown restrictions are relaxed.
Bereznicki, with 56 fights under his belt at youth and senior level, admitted he's had promoters and managers approach him about turning professional.
But, presently, he still feels he's got a lot to learn and is desperate to achieve his Olympic goal.
‘I’m still quite young and I want to learn from the amateur boxing because that’s like a learning phase in boxing,' said Bereznicki.
‘I always get like promoters, managers and people like that speaking to me asking me to turn over and stuff like that, but right now I’m really focused on the Olympics.
‘I’ve still got time, I know I can be a lot better. I’ve got time to mature more.
‘I’m still 20 and in this weight class you’ve still got to fill out and become a man. I’m still a boy compared to these guys.
‘I’ve never really thought about it, I’ve never thought I’d be so into boxing, but I think professional is something I want to do one day.
‘I don't see the rush in it. I just want to build up a bit, get more experience, so then I’ll be more ready for the pro bouts.'