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July 15, 2018

Waseem battles tough foe for world title today


July 15, 2018

KARACHI: Pakistan’s professional boxer Mohammad Waseem will fight the toughest battle of his pro career on Sunday (today) when he faces the highly experienced former International Boxing Federation (IBF) world champion Moruti Mthalane of South Africa in the IBF flyweight world title shot in Kuala Lumpur.

By the time this story will be read by the readers, the result of the battle at the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur would have come. The bout is scheduled at 5am PST today.

The 35-year-old Mthalane is more experienced and has to his credit 35 wins in 37 bouts which also include 24 knock-outs.

The 30-year-old Waseem, on the other hand, has played eight bouts, winning all with six knock-outs.

The former two-time World Boxing Council (WBC) flyweight world silver champion Waseem is optimistic ahead of the fight.

“I am absolutely ready to win this title for Pakistan,” the 2014 Incheon Asian Games bronze medallist told ‘The News’ from Kuala Lumpur on Saturday.

“Today we had a weigh-in session. There is a lot of media here and it is a fine environment. I request the nation to pray for me,” the determined Waseem said.

Waseem is being coached by Jeff Mayweather, uncle of pro boxing guru Floyd Mayweather Jr. of the United States.

Waseem’s brother Mohammad Faheem is also accompanying the fighter.

“His morale is very high and he is very confident. But his opponent is very tough. The people say here that Mthalane is very hard fighter but I’m confident that Waseem will beat him,” Faheem told this correspondent.

Waseem came to Kuala Lumpur a few days ago after a hectic training in Las Vegas, United States.

Mthalane is determined to reclaim his IBF title.

“I’m happy for the opportunity to fight for the title which I held before,” Mthalane told ESPN. “I have moved on from what made me lose the title. I’m focused on bringing back the title,” he added.

“I’ve watched his (Waseem) fights and I can see he is very good,” says Mthalane. “That’s what has pushed me to work hard for this fight. I’m not taking him lightly but I will be the one who is successful on the night.”

The title was left vacant by Filipino fighter Donnie Nietes, who held the crown for several years before rising to the super flyweight category.

The Waseem-Moruti fight was previously set as an elimination bout but after Donnie Nietes vacated the belt the fight was elevated to IBF flyweight title bout.

If the former two-time Commonwealth Games medallist is able to lift the crown he will become the first Pakistani to achieve the milestone.

After a decade-long illustrious amateur career, Waseem turned pro in early 2015, just months after winning bronze medal for the country in the 2014 Incheon Asian Games. And in pro circuit too he remained successful.

He shot to fame when he won the WBC world silver flyweight title by beating Jether Oliva of the Philippines on July 17, 2016, in Korea. In November the same year, he defended his crown by upstaging Giemel Magramo of the Philippines, also in Seoul.

Following his excellent performance, Waseem also remained World No1 for quite some time in the WBC books. He was expected to face Japan’s knock-out artist Daigo Higa in the WBC flyweight title bout early this year. However, financial constraints denied him the chance to meet the Japanese.

Following some bad days when Waseem remained out of the ring due to sponsorship issue, finally, fate took a turn in the shape of getting the same fight in Malaysia on the undercard of the Manny Pacquiao-Lucas Matthysse bout.

Mthalane, who has been playing in professional circuit since 2000, faced knock-out defeats in two bouts in his 18-year career. The South African had clinched the IBF flyweight world crown when he beat Mexican boxer Julio César Miranda in November 2009.

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