EMERGING Bendigo boxer ‘Kid’ Dino Rafaeles is shaping up to aid a fellow Australian's bid to become a world champion.
The 25-year-old, who trains at the California Gully gym of brothers Pat and Gary Connolly, spent last Saturday morning sparring with WBC world minimum-weight contender Omari Kimweri.
Tanzanian-born Kimweri will fight current champion Chayaphon Moonsri in his native Thailand on June 3.
His trainer Dave Hegarty, from the Tarneit Boxing Gym in Melbourne, said a dearth of lighter weight boxers in Australia had led to he and Kimweri extending an invite to Rafaeles to spar.
"Dino is an amazing little fighter," he said.
"When you are getting up to this elite level, you have to get elite people to spar, and Dino is certainly one of them.
"He's got a good future. They are guiding him well, he's in good hands with Pat and Garry.
"It's hard to get good quality, little sparring partners here in Melbourne, or anywhere in Australia."
Kimweri – or as he prefers, Omar - has seven weeks before he steps into the ring against Moonsri, who has defended the title six times since winning it in November 2014.
The champion has also won four non-title fights in that period.
Kimweri, a former WBC silver flyweight champion, made headlines in 2006 when he fled the Commonwealth Games village in Melbourne to seek asylum after arriving to represent his native Tanzania.
He was granted Australian citizenship in 2010.
Hegarty described Kimweri's title fight as the "Mount Everest of boxing".
"This is the biggest prize in boxing, it doesn't go any higher," he said.
"It's pretty exciting for Australian boxing and the whole team.
"Omar has an amazing background.
"It will be a tough fight but I believe he can win it. Omar is a real fighter, unpredictable, and we've come up with a number of cool plans."
The sparring session was another gold-class experience for Rafaeles, who is 2-0 in his professional career and has previously sparred with WBO world bantamweight champion Marlon Tapales.
Garry Connolly said the Rafaeles-Kimweri spar had been evenly matched.
"That says a lot about where Dino is at, and like all our professional guys (Brad Morgan and Matt Hall) has the ability to go a long, long way," he said.
"He didn't look out of place at all.
"They did six rounds and he was landing just as many punches."
Rafaeles won his most recent fight against Reyjhun Morano in the Philippines in December.