KARACHI: Twenty-eight-year-old Muhammad Waseem is awaiting the biggest challenge of his life — the World Boxing Organisation Junior Bantamweight title fight against Japan’s Naoya Inoue, nicknamed ‘the Monster’, scheduled to take place in January.
The 2014 silver-medalist, who abandoned his Olympic dream due to a lack of interest from the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) and the Pakistan Boxing Federation (PBF), is now backed by Korean sponsor Andy Kim.
His debut in the professional arena proved a success when he knocked out local champion Lee Min Woo during the ninth round in Korea on October 4 to win the Korean Boxing Commission (KBO) title and break his personal record. It was also a first for a Pakistani boxer to achieve this feat in the professional circuit on the first go.
Asian Championship: Boxers racing against time for preparation
Carrying with him some bitterness towards the PBF and PSB, Waseem is trying to make his way forward by registering with the Oriental and Pacific Boxing Federation.
“I’m through with the way things go on in Pakistan, but I’m excited with the opportunities that I’m getting in Japan now,” Waseem, who also missed out on offers from AIBA Pro since the PBF failed to process them in time, told The Express Tribune.
“After the January bout, my aim will be to win five more fights so that I can improve my ranking. Before this, I had really wanted to raise Pakistan’s flag at the 2016 Rio Olympics, but the lack of professionalism at the official level in the country killed that dream for me.”
Amir Khan to set up boxing academy in Islamabad
However, his new life in Japan seems promising. Waseem said he is also learning plenty about the business aspect of the sport and the pressures of making good on investments made in him. He claims sponsors had so far invested almost $60,000 in him.
“For the January fight, Kim is investing $90,000,” he added. “I need to make sure I train hard and go for a win. I’ll also be going to the US for a week to better prepare myself.”
Compared to Waseem’s first professional bout and only win, his opponent Inoue has triumphed in all eight of his fights and has seven knockouts to his credit.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 20th, 2015.
Like Sports on Facebook, follow @ETribuneSports on Twitter to stay informed and join in the conversation.