Ilyas beats Joseph to make it to the quarter-finals

By our web desk

BIRMINGHAM: Pakistan’s young boxing sensation Ilyas Hussain on Monday gave Pakistan a medal hope when he defeated Anthony Joseph of Trinidad and Tobago in the featherweight category to qualify for the quarter-finals of the boxing event of the Commonwealth Games here at the National Exhibition Centre on Monday.

In the round of 16 fight, the Quetta-born 21 years old Ilyas, who beat Lesotho’s Moroke Mokhoto in his debut bout the other day, showed his class and overcame a dangerous Joseph through a split decision 3-2 (28-29, 29-28, 29-28, 29-28, 28-29).

Ilyas, who faced some defence issues, started brightly and tried to keep Jospeh under pressure. In the last few seconds of the first round both fighters sprayed each other with smart punches.

In the second round, Ilyas boxed stunningly and kept his opponent under a tight check with some good hooks. In the third round it looked to be an even fight with Joseph seemingly enjoying an upper edge and Ilyas showed signs of fatigue.

But it did not hurt him as he was able to notch the much-needed win which created a slim medal hope now for the country. Pakistan last lifted a medal in the Commonwealth Games in boxing when the now professional fighter Mohammad Waseem secured silver in the 2014 Glasgow Games. “I request the nation to pray for my next fight. I will inshaAllah win a medal for the country,” Ilyas told after his super win.

“This is my first international tour and I need to learn a lot and it’s a long way to go but now I am completely focused on this event. So far, things have been very good,” Ilyas said. “I got tired in the third round because I played with more power and agility in the first two rounds and that worked also,” said Ilyas.

Meanwhile Pakistan coach Arshad Hussain was also happy with the win.

“You know his opponent had the experience and it was a good win from Ilyas,” Arshad told this correspondent. “He played an attacking game. He is a brave fighter and it is his plus point. He is just 21 and he will learn in time to come and I hope he will turn out to be a good boxer in future. Yes, he has some defence issues and we are working on them and hopefully this zone will be rectified,” said Arshad, also a former Commonwealth Games medallist. Ilyas will now face Jude Gallagher of Northern Ireland in the quarter-finals on Wednesday (tomorrow).

Jude on Monday knocked out Niall Farrell of England in the first round. Suleman Baloch and Nazeerullah Khan have already been eliminated. The draw issue of Asian Under-22 Boxing Championship bronze medallist Zohaib Rasheed was yet to be sorted out.

On Tuesday (today) Mehreen Baloch will be pitted against Sajeewani Coorey Muthuthanthri of Sri Lanka in the featherweight (54-57kg) round of 16.

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