By our correspondent
DUBAI: And once again despite playing so impressively, Pakistan’s premier professional boxer Mohammad Waseem fell short of his first world title when he was downed by England’s Sunny Edwards in the IBF flyweight world title bout here at The Irish Village inside the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Centre late Saturday night.
And Waseem said Edwards did not win the fight but it was gifted to him.
“Yes, Edwards did not win the fight but it was given to him,” Waseem told this correspondent after keeping his opponent under terrific pressure in the 12-round fight witnessed by a sizeable crowd.
“The referee was very unfair. He was very rude when he first came to the dressing room, and on the ring, too, he was working against me. He kept giving me warnings when I was playing so well and so clean,” Waseem said.
“We will meet to discuss what has happened. Yes, it’s a matter of concern,” said Waseem, a boxer of Probellum promotion, which was bringing this terrific fight night to the boxing fans around the world.
Waseem also blamed referee while on the ring soon after the decision came in favour of Edwards with the official scores being 116-110, 115-111 and 115-111, something which Waseem was not expecting. Waseem faced deduction of points for what referee felt rough tactics from the Pakistani fighter in the sixth and seventh rounds and this also added to his defeat.
But the shock has not dented Waseem’s resolve and he says he will come again stronger.
“I will come again stronger,” said Waseem, who also holds No1 spot in the WBA rankings. “Edwards did not box, he just kept running. I give respect to Edwards as he is a fine boy but the referee was highly unfair,” Waseem said.
Both boxers were also seen posing together for a photograph after the fight.
Waseem, coached by Danny Vaughan, came onto the ring amid charged environment on the chilly night when cool breeze was blowing across a huge boxing arena. A few friends of Waseem from Quetta, who are based in Sharjah, also had come to support the three-time WBC flyweight silver champion. Coming onto the ring, the 34-year old Waseem was more confident. And the 26-year-old Edwards, who had been very outspoken and extra-confident before the fight, tried to terrify the seasoned Falcon (Waseem) with a few forceful punches just in the start but Waseem pushed him back with his super counter-attack. Waseem mixed-up both defence and aggression in a sublime way. London-born Edwards was seen running around and it seemed that he had known now the strength of the Pakistani fighter.
Edwards’s counter-attack, while on his back-foot, looked sharp but he struggled to rip through Waseem’s strong defence. Waseem, throughout, kept exerting pressure with his coach Danny Vaughan keeping him motivated with his constant interaction from outside the ring. In the third round, in particular, Waseem took Edwards around the ring and sprayed with a volley of punches and hooks and left him hugely unsettled. In the fourth round, in the first two minutes, both fighters struggled but in the third minute Waseem pushed Edwards to the rope again.
After a tough fifth round, Edwards looked dangerous in the sixth round but Waseem counter-attacked sharply and also faced point deduction for rough tactics. In the seventh round, Waseem faced point deduction again. In the eighth round, Waseem had an upper hand and it seemed that Edwards was a bit tired, Waseem showed great stamina and looked normal, unleashing terrific punches. The ninth round truly belonged to Edwards as he showed great agility and his hooks on backfoot were treat to watch, in the end, Waseem fought back with a great side-ways attack.
In the final three rounds a gruelling fight was witnessed as either fighter wanted to secure maximum points. As the fight ended Waseem was the first to climb on the ring, celebrating his possible victory and Edwards followed suit to do the same soon after.
And with the result, Edwards defended the IBF flyweight world title for the second time. Edwards lifted this title for the first time in April 2021 when he defeated seasoned Moruti Mthalane of South Africa before defending it by outgunning Jayson Mama of the Philippines last December.
Unlike his pre-bout statements, Edwards was seen a bit in control mood, giving respect to both Waseem and his coach Danny Vaughan when he was handed the belt.
“Mohammad Waseem is a world-class operator and he and his coach Danny came with a good game plan,” Edwards said after his title defence.
This was the 18th straight win from Edwards and he is yet undefeated. This was the second loss from Waseem in his 14th fight, the previous defeat being against Moruti Mthalane of South Africa a few years ago in the world title fight in Malaysia.
“There was a lot on the line tonight but I did not want to just run, run, run, and I wanted to mix it up and I felt I won comfortably in the end,” Edwards said.
Waseem had also lost his previous world title fight against Moruti Mthalane when it seemed that it was the Pakistani fighter who had dominated the fight throughout.