SINGAPORE - Local professional boxer Muhammad Ashiq will soon have the chance to etch his name alongside the likes of Mexican star Saul "Canelo" Alvarez.
The Singaporean will take on Thailand's Thattana Luangphon in Bangkok on April 20 for the World Boxing Council (WBC) youth world super bantamweight (up to 55.3kg) champion.
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).
It introduced the world youth title in 1999 for up-and-coming fighters under the age of 24.
Alvarez, 28, is the current WBC, WBA, and IBF middleweight champion, and won the WBC youth world title in August 2009. He defended it once before focusing on bigger titles.
Ashiq, 23, is thrilled to be given a chance to follow in Alvarez's footsteps, and said: "I'm very excited about this fight because this is the biggest title opportunity yet. It would mean a lot to me to win, so I'm working very hard to make sure I do.
"I don't have much of an amateur boxing background, so (milestones) like these prove that I am doing something right in the pros."
Ashiq, who was a former muay thai fighter before embarking on his pro boxing career in September 2017, has amassed a record of six wins and one draw.
Thattana, who is 21 and also has a background in muay thai, has a record of three wins and one draw.
The WBC youth world super bantamweight title is vacant as the last champion, Tenta Kiyose of Japan, relinquished the belt after not defending it within a year after winning it in November 2017.
The age limit set by the WBC for the world youth title means that even if Ashiq wins his 10-round bout, he will have to relinquish the belt just over a month later on May 23.
Arvind Lalwani, Ashiq's trainer and manager, believes the WBC youth world title win would be a good stepping stone for his fighter.
"If Ashiq wins, it would make the WBC take notice, and also make him one of the best up-and-coming super bantamweights coming out of Asia," said the 39-year-old.
"After Bangkok, we are hoping he can fight three or four more times this year, take his record up to double digits, and maybe break into the top 50 (in the division) in the world.
"The long-term goal is to try and challenge to be in the top 10... Ashiq's only 23, he has such a career ahead of him and, hopefully by avoiding injuries and looking after himself, he can do it."