ISLAMABAD - Pakistan’s pride boxer M Waseem has knocked out Eliecer Valdez in Panama to maintain his first position in WBC rankings.

With this victory, Waseem registered his sixth consecutive victory of his professional career. He first won the flyweight title in July 2016 after defeating favourite Jether Oliva from the Philippines. Waseem is currently training for his much-awaited fight against world champion Mayweather Junior, expected to take place early next year. Jeff Mayweather, who is also uncle of Mayweather Junior, is currently coaching Waseem.

Talking to The Nation after the fight, Waseem said his victory was possible due to his coach’s hard work and his excessive training. “I am grateful to government of Pakistan, especially Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif and IPC minister Mian Riaz Pirzada for timely realising of special grant to him, which helped him training abroad. It was 8-round bout sanctioned by World Boxing Council (WBC) and I floored Valdez in the second round.

Waseem said he was top ranked challenger for the title and further enhanced his credentials with this victory. “Valdez was a tough fighter and was playing at his home town, but I had never allowed him any chance to settle down and put him under enormous pressure, which helped me knock out my opponent in the second round.

He said he was amazed that the crowd at the bout cheered for him just on the merit of his game. “They were cheering for me; I think they liked my game, which was good. People here have no clue what Pakistan is, I haven’t even seen a single Pakistani here, but they appreciate the sport,” he said.  The boxer will be training in Panama for his next bout and hopes to have good sparring sessions. The boxer said now his next fight would be held end of this month or might be early next month. “I haven’t started training here yet. I hope there are good boxers here, but I am confident I would play my best game and succeed in winning the next games as well.

“Soon I will come to know that to whom I am going to fight next. I request all to pray for my success as I want to win world title for Pakistan. I hope the PM and the IPC minister will continue to help me like past, so that I may only focus on task ahead,” Waseem concluded.

According to his promoter, Andy Kim, Waseem surprised him with the form. “It’s a great thing to see him win,” he said. “I knew it would be an easy fight for him, because he was extremely sharp in this fight for a boxer who hadn’t stepped in the ring for six months. I’m waiting for WBC to correspond on the World title bout now.”

Meanwhile, IPC minister Mian Hussain Pirzada felicitated Waseem upon his success. In his message to the boxer, the IPC minister lauded his efforts and assured Waseem of his all-out support and termed his victory as another gift to Pakistanis after the Champions Trophy success.