ULTIMATE BOXXER III slugger Derrick Osaze has the tournament’s most powerful support as an ordained minister and man of God.
The Peckham ace, now based in Nottingham, only walked into a boxing gym as a wayward kid to stay out of trouble.
And now the 6-0 ace divides his time between the ropes and the pews, handing out beatings and spreading the Gospel with equal dedication.
The 25-year-old, nicknamed the Punching Preacher, told SunSport: “I was ordained in March 2018 and my manager gave me the nickname. I rejected it for ages until it finally started to grow on me.
“Now everyone at my church and even my parents call me the Punching Preacher.
“There are some real heroes of mine who were big on their faith, like George Foreman and Evander Holyfield, so it’s awesome really.”
Osaze, who trains at the Dreams Come True boxing academy and works as a youth pastor at God’s Vineyard Ministries, is a close friend of light-heavyweight sensation Joshua Buatsi.
Both South London starlets started boxing late at 15, as a way to improve their discipline.
And both had to hide their skills from their parents, who wanted their sons to focus on school books instead of punch bags.
My dad was worried I would fight everyone in the house but it was the opposite, it made me so disciplined.
Osaze remembers: “I didn’t even have my first amateur fight until I was 19 because education was so important to my family, I had to wait until I went up to university in Nottingham.
“At the beginning my parents didn’t support me but it was out of fear for my safety.
“The first thing my mum ever said to me about boxing was: ‘What about your face?’
“My dad was worried I would fight everyone in the house but it was the opposite, it made me so disciplined.
“But now they are the most supportive parents I could have, they both sit ringside. They just wanted to make sure I am dedicated.”
Brainbox Osaze will hope to have some extra fans from his adoptive home for the Southern leg of the tournament.
The O2 Indigo in Greenwich will showcase the competition but Osaze’s congregation can follow his efforts on BT Sport and YouTube.
He said: “I went to Nottingham Trent university to study business management and then I got a masters in sports psychology before meeting my wife there, but she is also from London.
“We fell in love with the place and stayed here, Nottingham has given me a lot of great things in my life, it’s a second home to me, after London and hopefully I will have some support from there.”