Cash-strapped Waseem offers to stage next fight in Pakistan

Faced with a desperate situation, boxing champion comes up with a plan


Natasha Raheel January 07, 2017
WELCHED? Waseem has yet to see a penny of the promised Rs24 million promised by the government. PHOTO COURTESY: ANDY KIM

KARACHI: World Boxing Council's (WBC) silver flyweight champion Muhammad Waseem has offered to organise his next fight in Pakistan, provided the government comes good on its promise and releases the grant of Rs24 million.

Shortly after Waseem defeated Philippines' Giemel Magramo on November 27 in what was the first defence of his title, the government announced a sizable grant for the Quetta-based pugilist in what was seen as a long overdue recognition of his talent.

But despite more than a month having passed by, Waseem has yet to see a penny of the promised funds, much to his disappointment.

His need has never been direr than it is now as Waseem is bound by WBC rules to defend his belt within 90 days of his previous fight.

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It means that if he doesn't get back in the ring by February 24, the title which no Pakistani had ever won before him and for whose pursuit Waseem trained for years, will have to be vacated.

With full knowledge that emotional pleas fall on deaf ears, Waseem has come up with an offer which will see the famished nation get a taste of international sports.

“I’m still stuck here asking for money from the government; all I’m saying is that I can also hold the next fight in Pakistan, if I get the funds,” Waseem told The Express Tribune. “If the government released my funds on time, I’ll get back to training.

He continued, "I have put government officials in touch with my promoter Andy Kim, and if they want, I can ask Kim to hold the next fight in Pakistan.”

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Waseem, who claimed the WBC title within four bouts of turning pro, further revealed that the Pakistan Army also recently assured him of support.

“I met Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa in Islamabad on Friday and told them that I can have my fights in Pakistan, which will benefit not only me but the country too. He too promised me that they will help in any way they can,” said Waseem.

Having a fight in his own backyard could actually prove beneficial for Waseem as it will not only attract a larger crowd but could also inspire others and even give the sport a boost in the country.

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“So far I haven't received the kind of mainstream success in Pakistan that champions deserve," complained Waseem. "Being ignored in my own country gives out a bad impression internationally, but maybe that could change if I can fight in front of my own people."

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