Geared up for the ultimate prize | Sports |

Pakistan’s premier professional boxer Mohammad Waseem reached very close to a world title when he downed Jeny Boy Boca of the Philippines in the world ranking fight in Lahore on December 19. The former WBC No1 flyweight fighter completed the victory through technical knock-out in the eighth round of the battle which he dominated.

Boca, who won the WBA Asian title in early 2020, is a very tough boxer.

But the way Waseem, Quetta-born two-time former WBC flyweight world silver champion, showed his class was remarkable. He was playing for the first time in front of his own fans and was very excited.

Waseem now has two options. He can play another bout before going for the world title or can directly contest for the world title. His managers in MTK Global will decide his future plan in the next few days.

Before coming to the topic I would like to tell the readers what happened to Waseem before the Lahore fight.

Soon after arriving in Lahore from Glasgow where he trains, Waseem caught fever. His condition turned very bad and his coach Danny Vaughn and other support staff wanted him to skip the fight as his body got paralysed and he could not even move. He remained in this serious condition for a couple of days. Doctors treated the fighter who was not in a position to leave the fight and rather insisted to play. He was mentally so strong that he overcame the issue and stood strong. He attended the weigh-in session on December 18 and nobody even felt that Waseem had been ill. And on the day of the bout he stood like a rock and toppled his opponent with an enviable ease. This shows how mentally tough Waseem is.

He played a bout after 14 long months – his last fight was in November 2019, against Ganigan Lopez of Mexico in Dubai. But no rustiness was seen as he had drilled heavily in Glasgow.

Let’s ask Waseem and he will tell you about his future plans.

“I am happy that after 14 months I am in the ring again. I beat Boca in Lahore in front of my own supporters and it was the happiest moment for me,” Waseem told ‘The News on Sunday’ (TNS) during an interview from his hometown Quetta.

“Yes I got ill and was serious but I was mentally strong. I did not want to skip the fight as I had worked really hard for months. And you saw Almighty Allah blessed me with victory,” Waseem said.

“Personally I think I should play one more bout before going for the world title fight but it will eventually be decided by MTK Global. So it is not yet clear what I will do in near future. I am optimistic that in the next five months I will be able to play a world title bout InshaAllah,” Waseem said.

“It is my dream to become a world champion and am very close to it. I have been progressing well so far and hopefully the things will go smoothly onwards too,” he said.

Before switching over to professional boxing, Waseem won bronze for Pakistan in 2014 Incheon Asian Games, one silver and one bronze in the 2014 Glasgow and 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games, respectively. He claimed several other medals in various international events.

During his professional career so far he has played 12 fights, won 11 and lost just one – he was controversially undone by South Africa’s Moruti Mthalane in the world title shot in Kuala Lumpur in July 2018.

Currently Waseem is at No4 in the IBF flyweight rankings. The top two spots are vacant which means that he is already the world title challenger.

All of Waseem’s fights have been tough but he rates his battle against Giemel Magramo of the Philippines as the toughest one.

“He was a tough boxer indeed and I rate that fight as the toughest of my career so far,” said Waseem, who defeated Magramo through a unanimous decision to defend his WBC world silver flyweight crown in November 2016 in South Korea.

“I am working hard and you will see InshaAllah some special moments of my career in 2021. It’s great that I am back in the ring following several issues because of COVID-19 which left sports events suspended for most part of 2020. I plan to work harder and achieve my milestone,” Waseem said.

“In the next few days I plan to return to Glasgow to resume my training for future challenges,” Waseem said.

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