Boxing: Muhammad Ashiq shadow-boxes in his sleep as he dreams of a historic WBC super bantamweight title

Muhammad Ashiq (above) will face Indonesian Galih Susanto for the World Boxing Council International Silver super bantamweight (up to 55kg) title on Nov 23, 2018.
Muhammad Ashiq (above) will face Indonesian Galih Susanto for the World Boxing Council International Silver super bantamweight (up to 55kg) title on Nov 23, 2018.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - For months, only one thing has been at the forefront of local professional boxer Muhammad Ashiq's thoughts: His World Boxing Council (WBC) International Silver super bantamweight (up to 55kg) title fight.

So much so that the 23-year-old started shadow-boxing in his sleep.

His wait will end on Friday night (Nov 23) when he faces Indonesian Galih Susanto for the belt at the Lion City Fury event at The Pavilion.

When The Straits Times visited him after training on Tuesday, he recounted sheepishly: "One day, I was napping here in the gym when my friend heard some noises coming from where I was sleeping.

"He came over to check on me, and said I had my hands up and was throwing punches, despite my eyes being closed."

This, Ashiq says, is the result of having spent countless hours practising positive visualisation of the fight whenever he can; he even does it in the shower.

Undefeated in five professional bouts - four of which came by way of knockout - Ashiq is making history as the first Singaporean to fight for a WBC belt.

 

The WBC is one of the world's four major boxing sanctioning bodies alongside the World Boxing Organisation (WBO), the International Boxing Federation (IBF) and the World Boxing Association (WBA).

The WBC International Silver title is three rungs below its World title, which is associated with big names like Muhammad Ali and Floyd Mayweather.

Although Susanto has the edge in terms of experience - he has a record of 16 wins, seven losses and one draw, boxing 183 rounds compared to Ashiq's 13 - this does not faze the Singaporean.

"I don't know much about my opponent, but I know I can win that title," said the hard-hitting, but soft-spoken Ashiq.

"I get my confidence through my training. Just over the last month or so, I can feel I have made an improvement, and I am much sharper and smarter in the ring."

Arvind Lalwani, his trainer and a WBC-accredited promoter, says Ashiq's power and size advantage - he stands at 1.78m while Susanto is 10cm shorter - could make the difference.

"Ashiq is ready to go," said the 38-year-old, who received the WBC Asia Honorary Promoter of the Year award at the organisation's Asian Summit in Manila last weekend.

"The key will be his strength and his body shots. I don't think there are many boxers in his division who go to the body like him."

In addition to Ashiq, Lion City Fury will also feature other local professional boxers like Nurshahidah Roslie and Rafi Majid, and five amateur bouts that will see SEA Games silver medallists Tay Jia Wei and Hanurdeen Hamid in action.

Tickets for the event, priced at $45, are available on eventbee.com.