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Waseem’s career in jeopardy

The Quetta-born boxer deserves to be a world champion but he needs a lot of support to achieve that target

Waseem’s career in jeopardy

The career of Pakistan’s sole pro boxer Mohammad Waseem, who is World Boxing Council (WBC) two-time world silver flyweight champion, has suddenly taken a twist. He was called by his promoter to Colombia a few days ago for resuming his training for the world title bout which he was expected to play against Daigo Higa of Japan in February next year. When he went there, the boxer was asked if he wanted to go back as the promoter had financial issues and was not in a position to support the training costs of the 30-year-old boxer. It shocked the boxer and he had no option but to come back to Pakistan.

As Waseem was the challenger, if he gets out of the race, it will be England’s Andrew Selby who will face reigning flyweight champion and knock-out artist Higa next year.

Waseem’s Korean promoter Andy Kim seemed confident a few days ago when he told me that he had planned for Waseem to undergo tough training in Colombia under a new coach. At that time, it did not seem that he may backtrack due to financial reasons.

And quite astonishingly, he has opted not to respond to Pakistani media’s queries. It has raised doubts about the future of the boxer. It’s a serious issue for the Quetta-born boxer who has no sponsors in Pakistan.

Pakistan government had released a cheque of Rs24 million this year that met most of his expenses for the previous two years.

But as it is not the responsibility of the government to back professional athletes, one cannot blame the government. What it has already done for the boxer needs to be appreciated.

Waseem is mentally tough and even in this situation he hasn’t lost courage. After reaching Pakistan, he has started his training. He knows that it will be difficult now to play his world title bout but he is determined to play it some other time. But for that he will need money as the fight fee is very high.

Waseem has no one in Pakistan to do marketing. Although he uses media for financial support, it will not be helpful unless he hires a person who could manage sponsors for him in Pakistan to prevent his career from being halted at a stage when he is just one win away from the world title.

Another issue is that he is growing in age and any further delay may hurt his career. He is currently world No1 in WBC ranking.

Kim’s failure to arrange the expected bout of Waseem against Higa in Korea may also have a role in the recent development.

Pro boxing is tricky. In it not only the boxer’s ability but the promoter’s genius also counts. Every promoter behind the world’s greatest boxers wants to host the title bout as by doing so not only the referees but the whole situation is under his control. And it would not be wrong to say that in a boxer’s win, a promoter has fifty percent contribution. These are facts which cannot be ignored. And it is premature to say how Andy Kim is playing his cards in this situation.

Waseem’s previous title bouts had been hosted by Kim in his own country Korea. In July last year, Waseem defeated Jether Oliva of the Philippines to emerge as the world silver flyweight champion.

He defended his crown in November last year in Korea when he edged out Giemel Magramo of the Philippines in a fight which lasted for full 12 rounds.

Waseem is the only boxer in the world to have won world silver crown in only his fourth pro bout.

Waseem is also thinking about playing for Pakistan in 2020 Olympics. He can do that but he will need a certain plan.

At this critical juncture, only Balochistan government can save Waseem’s career. After the devolution, provinces have become powerful. It should not be an issue for Balochistan to support Waseem.

Balochistan Chief Minister had promised Waseem support after he won his first world title but so far the boxer has not received anything which is an insult for the fighter who rendered meritorious services for Pakistan in his ten-year amateur career till 2014 Incheon Asian Games in which Waseem won bronze.

Let’s see what fortune has in store for Waseem who deserves to become the world champion.

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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