Stefan Dill returns to the ring after a lengthy absence on “The Next Greatest” fight card as he begins his ambitious journey to reach the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Dill took a break from the sport after the birth of his daughter 18 months ago and has not fought since losing to Shannon Ford, of the Bermuda Sanshou Association, in November 2015.
The motivation behind his comeback is largely down to the Bermuda Boxing Federation’s move to create and support a small team of amateurs with aspirations of representing the island internationally.
Dill has joined Andre Lambe and Tyler Christopher in “Team Bermuda”, with all three competing in a CAC Games qualifier in Tijuana, Mexico, next month.
Up first for Dill, however, is a domestic dust-up against Dunjai Lambe, of Controversy Gym, at CedarBridge Academy on Saturday night.
“I’m not underestimating my opponent at all,” Dill said. “I’m sure he’s ready for me and knows all about me.
“It isn’t my main focus, but it is a priority; that and to represent Bermuda well.”
Dill, who is busy shedding pounds at the Beast Gym as he looks drop from heavyweight to light heavyweight, is the most experienced of the amateur team.
The 27-year-old has already fought overseas, having competed at the ABAB 35th Anniversary Boxing Tournament in Barbados in 2012, where he won the gold medal in the heavyweight division.
“It’s been a big difference training as part of a team and seeing other people as driven and as passionate about the sport as I am,” said Dill, who has a record of five wins and two defeats.
“I’ve been training most days between Beast Gym, Police Gym, Forty Rego’s Gym and Aries Sport Centre, sometimes twice a day.
“My boot camp has been vigorous and I am tired, but I want to give those guys hell in Mexico!”
Dill, Lambe and Christopher have two opportunities to qualify for the Tokyo Games, at the CAC Games in Barranquilla, Colombia, this summer, and the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, next year. Quinn Paynter was the last Bermudian boxer to reach the Olympics, advancing to the third round of the light middleweight division at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
“I’m shooting for the Olympics,” Dill said. “That’s definitely the goal. We’re not going [to the CAC Games qualifiers] just for the experience. We’re going there to qualify and that’s the attitude we’re taking.
“Bermuda’s only Olympic medal is through boxing and we’re trying to continue that tradition and show people that boxing is a big sport in Bermuda and should be focused on more.”
Lambe’s welterweight bout against Daniel Roach, of Canada, headlines the “The Next Greatest” show, while Christopher faces another Canadian, Steve Wilshire, in a middleweight contest.
Also in action will be Michael Parsons, a former Bermuda footballer, who meets Canadian welterweight Alex Navarro.
Two domestic heavyweight bouts, featuring Controversy Gym fighters, will pit Shane Basden against George Cook, and Justin Tucker against Kevin Masters.
• Tickets costing $75 for VIP, $50 for general admission and $25 for under-18s are available from Sports R Us or online at ptix.bm