Sunday, August 10, 2014

Asif sails into Taipei final

KARACHI: Syed Mohammad Asif defeated Enkhtur Enkh Nasan of Mongolia to make it to the final of the flyweight category of the Fourth Taipei City Cup International Boxing tournament in Chinese Taipei on Saturday.

Asif edged his Mongolian rival 30-27 to keep Pakistan’s gold medal chances alive. He will face Mikito Nakano of Japan in the final on Sunday (today).

Pakistan’s boxing official Ali Akbar Shah hoped that Asif would win his final bout.

“Although the boxer from Japan is a tough competitor Asif has the killer instinct and I am confident that he will lift the gold,” Shah told ‘The News’ on Saturday.

The 22-year old Asif belongs to Quetta and has received training from legendary coach Habibullah Jafferi, who is also the coach of former Olympian late Abrar Hussain and other prominent international boxers from Quetta.

Asif belongs to a poor family of Hazara community.

Asif had made his international debut in 2010 in Azerbaijan at the World Youth Boxing Championship in which he had lost his first bout.

When quizzed how he would compare Asif with the Glasgow Commonwealth Games silver medallist Mohammad Waseem, Shah said that Asif was better than Waseem.

“Waseem has done a lot for Pakistan and is one of the finest boxers the country has produced. But if both fight each other then I give you hundred percent assurance that Asif will beat Waseem,” he observed.

As Waseem, who also belongs to Quetta, is committed to switch over to professional boxing, Asif will be the right option to plug his gap in the flyweight category.

And Shah agrees.

“I think the same had also happened when Haider Ali had turned pro. He was replaced by Mehrullah Lassi and the later started lifting medals on international circuit. Now, too, if Waseem abandons amateur boxing, then Pakistan will face no trouble in the flyweight category as Asif will fill the vacuum,” Shah conceded.

If Waseem did not turn pro then in future Pakistan’s boxing authorities may face problems in choosing one from the two for the national duty like they faced in the past.

Ahead of the 2012 London Olympics Qualifiers in Astana, Pakistan had Waseem and England-based Haroon Khan in the flyweight category. Pakistan Boxing Federation (PBF) asked Waseem to reduce his weight and play in the light flyweight so that Haroon could play in the flyweight. But Waseem did not agree. Following Waseem’s refusal, Haroon’s father also asked his son not to play and give chance to Waseem. And so Waseem featured in the Qualifiers where he fell in the quarter-finals and missed out on an Olympic berth. On Friday, Jehanzeb Khan had lost to Tanes Ongjunia of Thailand in his light flyweight fight.

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