Pakistan’s only World Boxing Council (WBC) title winner Muhammad Waseem will take on South Africa’s Moruti Mthalane for the vacant International Boxing Federation (IBF) flyweight world title bout on July 14 in Malaysia.
This is also the first time any Pakistan pugilist will be going for the IBF world title.
According to Waseem, the fight is as big as it gets since this will be his first chance at the world title that was left vacant by a Filipino boxer Donnie Nietes, who has been the longest reigning world champion in flyweight category after the latter climbed to the super flyweight category.
He will take on a much more experienced Mthalane who has a record of 37 bouts with only two defeats in his career. However Waseem has age on his side with an impeccable professional career with eight bouts, no defeats and six knockouts to his name.
Earlier this year, Waseem was looking to fight WBC world titleholder Daigo Higa, however, due to the lack of resources and limited finances Waseem had to let go and in return he was stripped off of his WBC silver title and lost his top ranking in the WBC as well.
“It has been a roller-coaster ride,” Waseem said. “I had troubles even after getting Pakistan the first WBC title, but I didn’t give up. And now this is my big chance, if it’s not the WBC title then it will be the IBF title.”
Waseem added that he would be featured on the undercard in KualaLumpur, with Manny Pacquiao featuring in the main card bout.
“It is huge for me to be even in the same arena as Pacquiao,” said Waseem. “The crowd will be great and I know this is a do-or-die fight for me.”
Waseem said the opportunity came at a crucial time where he had almost thought of retiring from boxing, however, now the chances of him winning were greater on a neutral venue, while if he had fought Higa, he would have had to go to Japan as his promoter did not have enough money to host a fight elsewhere.
“It’s a great venue and has great energy. I had almost given up but then Sean Gibbons came along and said that he could help, and now he made a difference for me, he arranged this in a lot of ways, almost like a new lease for me,” said Waseem.
On the other hand Waseem’s Korean promoter Andy Kim believes this is a big fight for the Quetta-based boxer and he is the favourite to win. Waseem said that he will prefer to train with Jeff Mayweather in Las Vegas and he is trying to get back in shape.
“I’ve been in Islamabad, but for a very long time I didn’t train at all, now I’m back on track,” said Waseem.