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Hurt by officialdom’s indifference

Boxer Mohammad Waseem, who defended his WBC flyweight world silver title in Seoul last month, continues to be ignored by the country’s sports authorities

Hurt by officialdom’s indifference
Muhammad Waseem.

Pakistan’s boxer star Mohammad Waseem defended World Boxing Council (WBC) flyweight world silver title in Seoul on November 27, beating Giemel Magramo of the Philippines in a 12-round fight. The result came through a unanimous decision. The 29-year-old Waseem had won this title on July 17, 2016, in the same city when he upstaged Jether Oliva of the Philippines and became the first Pakistani boxer to grab the coveted title. It was only his fourth bout. Waseem has won all his five professional bouts so far.

This was the first loss for young Magramo who before this fight had recorded 17 straight wins.

The Quetta-born pugilist will now be fighting for the WBC flyweight world title which currently is vacant. Unlike Waseem’s initial four bouts, his battle against Magramo was extremely tough. After going down in the initial rounds Waseem dug deep and staged a superb comeback, particularly in the final few rounds, to emerge victorious. The fight was also a wake-up call for the 2014 Incheon Asian Games bronze medallist. He will have to upgrade his training if he wants to become the world champion.

The challenges ahead are tougher and Waseem will have to prepare for them like a true professional. For the fight against Magramo, Waseem underwent two-month training at the Floyd Mayweather Junior Boxing Club in Las Vegas. He was trained by Mayweather Junior’s uncle Jeff.

Waseem needs financial support. He is of the opinion that he will need at least Rs100 million for his preparation, a target which looks difficult keeping in view the cold response from Pakistan’s corporate sector. It was extremely unfortunate that Waseem’s fight was not televised in Pakistan. And no one from Pakistan’s boxing community even took pain to congratulate the boxer. Even Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) and Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) did not issue any press release following his superb triumph, which would have encouraged the pugilist, who served Pakistan for over a decade in amateur circuit.

But he has some hope. Javed Afridi, a businessman, has promised that he would sponsor the boxer during his preparation for further pro fights. He not only announced Rs2.5 million for the boxer but also made him an ambassador for Peshawar Zalmi, which will feature in the Pakistan Super League (PSL).

Lack of sponsorship has also disturbed Waseem’s promoter Andy Kim, who has invested a lot for preparing Waseem for his fights during the last couple of years.

Lack of sponsorship has also disturbed Waseem’s promoter Andy Kim, who has invested a lot for preparing Waseem for his fights during the last couple of years. Before Magramo fight, when I asked Kim for a link of the fight he told me that if Pakistanis were to watch the fight Pakistan’s television channels should have purchased broadcast rights.

Before Magramo fight, when I asked Kim for a link of the fight he told me that if Pakistanis were to watch the fight Pakistan’s television channels should have purchased broadcast rights.

It is a really embarrassing situation for all of us. In Korea, Waseem was not sponsored by the corporate sector because he is a Pakistani.

No one from Pakistan’s consulate in South Korea bothered to witness Waseem’s fight. When will we know the importance of sports which the rest of the world treats as an industry?

‘The News on Sunday’ talked to Waseem about his fight against Magramo, his future plans and what he needs before fighting for the world crown. Here are some excerpts.

“It was indeed a tough fight. Magramo was really strong, very strong,” Waseem said. “I had prepared for the fight intensively in America. Around 35 to 38 coaches in America had told me that I would be able to knock Magramo out in the seventh or eighth round. But it could not be done. I took the fight easy but when he attacked me I saw that he was a different boxer and had prepared well. His focus was on body shots but I blocked them well. My focus was on face shots. In the last four to five rounds I boxed well. My stamina was better than him and that helped me. In the last round he was completely helpless,” Waseem said.

He admitted he would have to improve his technique for the fight for the world crown. “I need some improvement as every next step in my career will be tougher. I need a physical trainer so that I can improve my conditioning. I entered Magramo fight with my right shoulder and left elbow injured and that was a real problem. I had to take one-week break during my training in Las Vegas due to these issues ahead of my fight against Magramo. I still feel pain in my elbow. I need a doctor,” Waseeem disclosed.

“There are some other issues and I will talk to my promoter Andy Kim and will try to work harder for future challenges,” the boxer said.

Javed Afridi’s offer has made the boxer happy. “I am thankful to Javed Afridi who promised to back me during my future training. He has also made me ambassador of his Peshawar Zalmi and it is an honour for me. With his support I will be relaxed and able to focus on my game. He has also told me that he would seek a few more sponsors for me. It’s good that finally someone has offered his support,” he said.

Waseem rubbished the idea that he was too old to achieve further glories. “I am not that old. My actual age is 28 years. I can play for a few more years and Insha Allah I will achieve my goals.”

Alam Zeb Safi

Alam Zeb copy
The writer is a sports reporter at The News International. He may be reached at [email protected]

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