En­counter with leg­endary Manny Pac­quiao in­spires Malaysian pro to new heights

New Straits Times - - Sport - FARAH AZHARIE fara­

FOR Malaysian boxer Ai­man Abu Bakar, a fight in Las Ve­gas would be the ic­ing on a great year for the 25-year-old who won last Sun­day's un­der­card in Makati City, the Philip­pines.

“Af­ter the re­cent win, I'm slowly get­ting recog­ni­tion from the box­ing world,” he said.

“What we set out to do next is to stay ac­tive, keep win­ning and hope­fully by the be­gin­ning of 2018 I'll be in a great po­si­tion to be fight­ing in world class are­nas such as Las Ve­gas.”

Af­ter the win, Ai­man was dubbed as one of the best box­ers to come out of Malaysia and he is one of only two pro box­ers cur­rently ac­tive.

Ac­tive in the box­ing scene in the Philip­pines, Ai­man had rea­sons to be­lieve his ca­reer would blos­som there due to the birth of greats such as Manny Pac­quiao whom he had met.

“They’ve pro­duced lots of world-class cal­i­bre box­ers through­out the years and I’ve al­ways be­lieved that if you want to achieve great­ness, you have to sur­round your­self with the very best.”

“I would say meet­ing the great Pac­quiao was the most mind blow­ing to me and just watch­ing him train gave me the idea of how a world class boxer looks like.”

The life chang­ing en­counter has in­spired Ai­man to reach new heights as Pac­quiao ad­vised the young boxer to work hard, pray to god and make sac­ri­fices.

Th­ese words are mo­ti­va­tion enough for Ai­man who said: “My ul­ti­mate tar­get this year is to stay ac­tive and keep win­ning more fights, I’d say around three or four fights this year will put me in a very good po­si­tion to be fight­ing in big­ger are­nas.”

Grow­ing up on the in­flu­ences of the late Muham­mad Ali, Roberto Du­ran, Julio Ce­sar Chavez and Ar­turo Gatti, Ai­man is con­vinced box­ing is more than just an or­di­nary sport.

“It’s about pride and hon­our, the only sport in the world that has the abil­ity to pro­duce cul­tural icons that made me want to be a pro­fes­sional boxer and bring hope and pride to the coun­try.”

Ai­man isn’t sure of where box­ing will lead him next, or even when his next fight is, but what he knows for cer­tain is that dur­ing his down­time, he is man­ager to mu­si­cian and el­der brother, Ar­iff.

“Ar­iff is an al­ter­na­tive in­die freak folk singer who is based in the UK and his songs from his up­com­ing al­bum ‘Blue Skele­ton’ was fea­tured on BBC plus played in the OX­jam Festival.”

Ai­man is cur­rently in the Philip­pines, train­ing out of JMC Box­ing Gum, as he an­tic­i­pates his next fight which should be sched­uled around next month.

Ai­man Abu Bakar was ad­vised by Manny Pac­quiao to work hard, pray to god and make sac­ri­fices.

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