Pakistan boxer Mohammad Waseem came up short in his International Boxing Federation flyweight title bout with South Africa’s Moruti Mthalane on Sunday but not before flooring his opponent in the 11th round and giving him a genuine scare.
With just eight pro fights under his belt, the Quetta-born pugilist had taken the gigantic challenge of facing Mthalane — a veteran of 37 fights heading into this one.
The fight in Malaysia, which took place on the undercard of boxing legend Manny Pacquiao’s welterweight showdown with Lucas Matthysse, saw Mthalane steadily but unremarkably build a lead on the judges’ cards over the first six rounds.
The African was clearly the busier of the two fighters in the first half of the bout but Waseem staged a comeback in the latter rounds, especially in the penultimate stanza.
Perhaps with the knowledge that he needed a late stoppage to win, the 30-year-old came out with a more adventurous mindset in the 11th, dishing some and copping some.
Waseem nearly pulled off a stunning upset when a counter left hook at the end of a Mthalane salvo, stunned the South African and saw him hit the canvass.
Mthalane was given a standing eight count but before Waseem could pounce to try and finish the fight right there and then, the bell rang. The fighters retreated to their corners as Mthalane and his camp breathed a collective sigh of relief.
Both the fighters gave their all in the last of their 12 tangos. The care for the basics banished, the duo brawled more, boxed less. Mthalane, with both his eyes swollen, was hurt for a second time in as many rounds as Waseem’s power punches took a toll on the 35-year-old.
Unluckily for Waseem, his final onslaught came a bit too late, for as soon as he had wobbled Mthalane for a second time, the round ended, and so did the fight.
The judges scored it a unanimous 114-113, 114-113 and 116-110 victory in the favour of Mthalane, although the fight was much closer than what the scorecards suggested.
Waseem, after eight straight victories, lost for the very first time in his pro career. But even in defeat, he gave a magnificent account of his ability and demonstrated why the Mayweathers took a chance on him.
Still young in boxing terms, Waseem can undoubtedly use the lessons learned in the defeat to fetch future victories.