Waseem sets target to claim IBF World Flyweight title next year

ISLAMABAD (APP): Pakistan’s top pro boxer Muhammad Waseem has said that his ultimate goal is to get a rematch with South Africa’s Moruti Mthalane and claim International Boxing Federation (IBF) World Flyweight title.

Waseem lost to Mthalane in controversial circumstances in Malaysia in July 2018. He had gone up against the South African in the 12-round bout. Although he left his opponent wobbling with both of his eyes swollen, the judges ruled 114-113, 114-113 and 116-110 in favour of his opponent.

“Since then I’ve been pressing him [Mthalane] for a challenge again, but to no avail so far. It’s clear he doesn’t want to fight me. But he is left with only two options now – either to fight me to defend the title or vacate it as I’ve already challenged for that,” Waseem told APP.

The Quetta-born gladiator, who rebounded with wins over Conrado Tanamor and former WBC Lightweight champion Ganigan Lopez in 2019, was scheduled to fight former European champion Ryan Farrag in March, but the bout was cancelled due coronavirus pandemic.

He said his UK visa was expired in March and during the period of nothingness he had been finding it hard to maintain his fitness level. “In April, I underwent a three-week training in Dubai. Afterwards, I moved to my hometown in Quetta where I’ve been trying my best to keep myself fit along with a group of other pugilists while adhering to the safety measures.

“But I feel I’ll have to spend a couple of months at the training facility at Glasgow to get my rhythm back and regain the top level form.” The MTK Global fighter said he would be flying to Scotland by the end of the ongoing month to resume his training at Glasgow to prepare himself for the title bout.

“Hopefully, the title fight will take place in March, next year. But prior to that I’ll be fighting in an eliminator in December to qualify for that [title fight],” Waseem added.

The 33-year-old gladiator said that he had applied for a five-year UK visa and was optimistic to get that within next two to three weeks. “I was being offered a six-month visa, but I’ve applied afresh, requesting them to grant me a five-year visa. I hope to get that within a week.”

Waseem said he did know who would be his opponent at the eliminator but said it would take place either in the UAE or Kazakhstan. “I’m ready to take on any pugilist anywhere. The eliminator will help me judge myself after this long period of inactivity [lockdown]. Then, I will prepare myself accordingly for the title fight,” the former two-time WBC flyweight champion added.

Waseem currently is at number in the IBF flyweight category. Filipino pugilist Jayson Mama stands just ahead of him at the third position. Top two slots of this category are not rated and hence up for grab, offering a perfect chance to Waseem to etch his name there.

Known as “Falcon”, the erstwhile Asian Games bronze medallist has also been ranked by the WBC in the super flyweight category at the 14th spot because he appeared in the last two fights in Dubai in that category. In the WBO flyweight ranking, Waseem is at the 11th number. That means out of four world bodies three have ranked the former two-time Commonwealth Games medallist.

“I’m the only Pakistani boxer, who has reached to that level. It’s also a pride for my country as being the world title challenger I can challenge the champion from any boxing world body,” he added.

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