Successful title defence: Waseem's rope-a-dope pays off

Boxer's emulation of Ali's strategy earns him unanimous-decision win


Natasha Raheel November 27, 2016
Waseem tired Magramo out by leaning against the rope for the first three rounds before suddenly catching fire in the latter rounds. PHOTO COURTESY: ANDY KIM

KARACHI: Pakistan's Muhammad Waseem nicknamed "Falcon" soared to new heights in his flourishing career as he successfully defended his World Boxing Council (WBC) Silver flyweight title with a unanimous-decision victory over Philippines' previously undefeated Giemel Magramo in Seoul, South Korea yesterday.

Even though Magramo was younger and had won all 17 of his professional fights, Waseem still managed to defeat him via his masterful strategy and precision striking.

At the end of the 12-round slugfest, all three judges called the fight 117-110, 114-113, 114-113 in Waseem's favour.

Muhammad Waseem successfully defends WBC Silver flyweight title

"Magramo wasn't an easy opponent at all. So I'm glad that my strategy worked against him," Waseem told The Express Tribune.

The feisty Magramo dominated the first three rounds as Waseem spent most of his time leaning against the ropes trying to weather the early storm.

PHOTO COURTESY: ANDY KIM

Waseem showed some life in the fourth round but the fifth round again belonged to Magramo, whose aggression had yet to subside.

The sixth round, however, saw a clear momentum shift as the Filipino finally ran out of steam and Waseem began to take control.

Over the remainder of the fight, the Quetta-born would pepper Magramo with calculated punches and steadily build his lead on the judges' cards, who may have also punished Magramo for his illegal head-butts that opened up several cuts over Waseem's eyes.

Waseem ready for first title defence

PHOTO COURTESY: ANDY KIM

"The first three rounds I wanted to tire Magramo out," explained Waseem regarding his passive start to the fight. "It did get dirty towards the end and I feel Magramo lost points for head-butting me. I ended up with seven to eight stiches over one eye and six or seven over the other; it was tense. Nonetheless, Magramo is a great fighter and a champion in his own right."

His promoter Andy Kim also confirmed that the rope-a-dope strategy, made famous by the great Muhammad Ali, was a part of their plan — one which Waseem executed to perfection.

"It was a test for Waseem, and he just proved his worth once again," said Kim. "People are used to seeing him dominate 100% so they did get upset in the beginning but Waseem made a great comeback in the bout."

Published in The Express Tribune, November 28th, 2016.

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