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June 2, 2019

Amir Khan to fight India’s Neeraj Goyat in Saudi Arabia on July 12

Sports

June 2, 2019

KARACHI: Aiming to play a role in bringing the two nations together, British boxer of Pakistani origin Amir Khan will face India’s Neeraj Goyat in the historic welterweight fight on July 12 at the King Abdullah Sports City Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

The former two-time world champion Amir said that he was in top shape and was ready for the fight.

“I am in good shape and am ready for the fight,” the 32-year old Amir told a news conference here on Saturday.

This was the first time in Amir’s professional boxing history that he held a news conference ahead of his professional fight in Pakistan.

As many as 12 fighters will be part of the competitions on that day in Jeddah which will lead to the historic Amir-Neeraj fight in the end.

Neeraj holds the World Boxing Council (WBC) Asian belt and was declared the boxer of Asia in 2017.

The 27-year old Begampur-born Neeraj has played 16 bouts in his pro career, winning 11 with two knock-outs, losing three while two ended in a draw.

The brightest part of the amateur career of the West Bengal fighter is his bronze medal which he grabbed in the qualifying round for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Although the fight seems to be an easy one for the world’s most renowned Muslim fighter Amir, he says that it would be a tough challenge.

“You know, every fight is hard and I believe that this is going to be a big fight. I request all the people to promote this fight,” said Amir, who also held a press conference in India on Friday.

Neeraj could not come to Pakistan because of visa issue. At a briefing in India, Neeraj said on Friday he had told Amir that he would play against him only if he would come down to welterweight from super welterweight.

“And I am thankful to him that he accepted my offer,” Neeraj said. He said that it was better for both Pakistan and India to fight in sports rather on the borders.

“It would be a healthy war if we both nations fight in sports. Such types of wars should be there between the two nations in all the sports,” Neeraj said.

Amir said that he still had intentions to open more academies in Pakistan so that boxing could flourish.

“You know, I have already opened an academy in Islamabad in which 300 kids are undergoing training. I plan to open such academies in all the nooks and corners of the country. Lyari, in particular, has great talent of boxing and other sports. I will also try to open an academy in Lyari. I will come to train the kids here myself but I cannot do this all alone. There will be a need of the state’s support because we will need land as well for the purpose,” Amir said.

When asked how he overcomes the pre-competition pressure, Amir said it is indeed a tough task.

“Its really nerve-wrecking when you are going for a fight. But you should believe in yourself and God Almighty will help you,” Amir said.

“I have also lost some fights in my career and people were saying that I am down and out but I always thought otherwise and God has also given me the power to re-emerge. One should always keep dreaming. I was dreaming that I would become world champion and thank God I have done it twice,” Amir added.

About his mission to hold Super Boxing League (SBL) in Pakistan, Amir said because of too much of his engagement in boxing he could not hold it. “You know, I have been busy and focusing on my boxing career. We could not hold it this year but inshaAllah in 2020 we will definitely organise this event which will help Pakistan’s boxing a lot,” Amir said.

The winner of Amir-Neeraj fight in Jeddah will be presented with the specially commissioned WBC one-off ‘Pearl Belt’. Amir is the first high-profile Muslim sportsman who will fight in Saudi Arabia.

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