Yaser Al-Ghena, the undefeated Southern Area champion, will go head-to-head with unbeaten Midlands champion James Scarrott for the English super-lightweight title later this year. 

It has been a long and challenging road to reach this point for Al-Ghena, known in the ring as Yasiiboy. 

The 29-year-old, born in Syria but raised in Finchley from age three, has had his fair share of hurdles to overcome. 

Originally dreaming of following in his father’s steps and becoming a footballer, Al-Ghena admits he was lost after failing to gain a scholarship at Arsenal’s academy in his teenage years. 

“My dreams were just folded,” he said.

“I'll be honest I was lost. I started hanging around the wrong people, getting into trouble with the police, and smoking - I was in a bad place.

“I had anger issues, my mom passed away when I was young, so I was a very angry child. I was very paranoid and I used to get in a lot of fights at school.”

However, this pain and adversity led him onto the path he was destined for.

“It got to a point where they put me on curfew and my counsellor said if you love fighting so much why don't you try and do it properly?" he added.

“That’s when they took me down to Finchley ABC. I just remember walking into the gym and my eyes just lit up. It felt like I was in some Rocky film seeing everyone on the boxing bags, and from that moment I knew exactly what I wanted to.

“I guess football just wasn't made for me. I was made for boxing.”

Yasiiboy hasn’t looked back. After turning professional in 2017, he is 11-0 with two KOs and is ranked 12th in the UK for his weight category - after beating Aaron Prospere in September to become the Southern Area champion. 

Scarrott, 20, will be no pushover standing six foot tall.

Al-Ghena added: “It’s undefeated against undefeated. Midlands champion against Southern Area champion. I’ve got to show him respect for taking the fight because it's hard to get a fight as it is, so, he's coming to win. I'll be ready and I'll be ready to showcase.

“I’m here to plant my name, to win titles. I’ve done my apprenticeship as a boxer, I’ve fought the journeymen and I want to go for the undefeated boxers. I don’t want to be taking all the easy fights, I want tough fights.”

It is clear Al-Ghena is hoping his journey can inspire others from the local community.

“I do this mainly for our family and for the people that were in my situation when they were going to give up or they didn't have any hope,” he said. 

“There aren’t any boxers that have actually come out of Finchley. There’s AJ [Anthony Joshua] from Watford and Derek Chisora from Golders Green but no one from Finchley. 

"This is where I've been brought up so it's good to have the community behind me and to show them I'm doing something well for my town.”

The title fight was set to take place on Saturday but has been rescheduled for September after Scarrott pulled out under personal medical conditions.