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August 9, 2020

Waseem wants a ranking fight before challenging a world champion

Sports

August 9, 2020

KARACHI: Pakistan’s premier professional boxer Mohammad Waseem on Saturday said that he would play one more ranking fight before challenging any world champion in the next few months.

“Yes, I plan to play one more ranking tough fight in order to get rhythm and then will challenge the world champion in the next few months,” he told ‘The News’ in an interview from his hometown Quetta.

Waseem currently holds the IBF fourth spot in the flyweight category. The top two spots of this weight category are vacant which gives opportunity to the former WBC No1 boxer to challenge any world champion. Jayson Mama of the Philippine stands just ahead of Waseem at the third spot of the IBF flyweight category.

He has also been ranked by the WBC in the super flyweight category at the 14th spot because the former Asian Games bronze medallist played the last two fights in Dubai in that category.

Waseem is 11th in the WBO flyweight ranking. It means out of four world bodies three have ranked former two-time Commonwealth Games medallist.

“As a world title challenger I can challenge champion of any boxing body,” he said.

Because of his visa issues last year, Waseem had to struggle a lot and also had to miss a fight in Dubai before his fight scheduled in Kazakhstan was cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic.

Now the MTK Global fighter will have to regain form and remove rustiness caused by the lockdown. “I am focussing on physical fitness but what I need is proper training,” Waseem said.

“After I go to Glasgow I will have to train for 45 days to get top form and rhythm before going for any fight. It will be immensely important to play a ranking fight so that I could judge myself after this prolonged inactivity and then I will decide the future things regarding the world title fight,” he said.

“You know fights have already been started. I also want to fight and am doing my utmost to first get my England visa before flying to Glasgow,” said Waseem, a former two-time WBC flyweight champion.

He has played 11 fights, winning ten with seven knock-outs, losing just one to IBF flyweight champion Moruti Mthalane of South Africa in Kuala Lumpur in the IBF world flyweight crown fight in 2018.

Last year, Waseem fought twice, beating Conrado Tanamor of the Philippines and Ganigan Lopez of Mexico in Dubai.

“I am going to apply for England visa next week and would like to move to Glasgow as soon as possible,” he said.

“Losing such a big time due to COVID-19 is unfortunate. It has unsettled most of the top athletes around the world. I am eager to rejoin MTK Global after getting England visa and then will focus on my future plans,” Waseem said.

He said it would be strange to fight without any crowd. “Fights without crowd look like some sparring in a gym. Fans back fighters and that creates excitement. But health safety comes first,” Waseem said.

“But you know some boxers play well in front of fans and some do well without crowd. Personally I like boxing in a jam-packed venue,” he said.