ISLAMABAD: Young Pakistan boxer Usman Wazir, who is the current Asian welterweight champion, will be featuring in the biggest fight of his career, the IBF Youth Title, in Manila on May 22.

“Finally, the bout for which I’ve been waiting for the last five years has arrived. I’ll be the first Pakistani boxer to fight for the IBF Youth Title and this is a big honour for me,” the 20-year-old Usman said in a video message without revealing the name of his opponent.

Usman made his professional boxing debut against the Moroccan Brahim Oubenais (0-1-0) on May 3, 2019 at Dubai where the former won by a split decision after four rounds claiming his first professional victory.

The Pakistan boxer, who has so far featured in five professional bouts, remains unbeaten.

He last fought on Dec 19 last year, knocking out Indonesia’s Carlos Lopez in Karachi to retain the Asian Boxing Federation (ABF) welterweight belt, he won on Oct 3, 2020 in Islamabad where the Pakistan pugilist knocked out Boido Simanjuntak, also of Indonesia.

According to Usman, Manny Pacquiao’s MP Promotions company will hold the event. He said he was in good shape as he had worked hard for the May 22 fight.

“I need my nation’s prayers for the success. I want to win this title to make Pakistan and Gilgit-Baltistan proud,” Usman, who hails from Astore, Gilgit-Baltistan, said.

He said so far no Pakistani pugilist had won the IBF Youth title. “By winning this title I want to make history in boxing like Imran Khan did in cricket and Jahangir Khan in squash.”

Usman said he was determined to win and shine in the world of boxing but needed government support to materialise his dream.

He claimed that Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Khalid Khurshid had assured him full cooperation for his Youth Title bout but added that he had not received anything in this regard yet.

“So far I’ve not received any support [from the government] and now I’ll have to rely on private sponsors for this fight,” Usman remarked.

“I’m happy but at the same time I’m [somewhat] sad too as this is the biggest fight of my professional career and I wanted to enter in the ring while wearing my traditional dress [like previous fights]. But now that will not happen as I need sponsors for this fight [and will have to dress accordingly],” he stated.

Meanwhile, Usman said two other professional Pakistan boxers — Asif Hazara and Kamran Khan — will also fight in the Philippines undercard of his bout.

Published in Dawn, March 23rd, 2021

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