"Shabaz Masoud: Nurturing Talent, Patience Required"
The boxing world held its breath on Saturday night as super-bantamweight contender Shabaz Masoud faced a formidable challenge, successfully defending his WBA Intercontinental title against the seasoned Colombian boxer Jose Sanmartin (34-8-1, 21 KOs). In a fight that went from the undercard to the headline, Masoud overcame adversity to secure a narrow split decision victory.
Originally scheduled for the undercard of Jack Catterall vs Jorge Linares, Masoud's journey took an unexpected turn when illness forced him to withdraw after the weigh-in. Undeterred, the bout was rescheduled for November 11th, elevating Masoud to the main event. The stakes were high for both fighters, with Sanmartin seeking redemption after two recent losses.
The early rounds saw Sanmartin imposing his will, pressuring Masoud and landing solid body shots. Masoud, pushed onto the back foot, faced the relentless aggression of his opponent. The third round showcased Sanmartin's bullying tactics, setting the stage for a gritty contest.
Masoud's response came in the fourth round, where he showcased impressive footwork, pivoting out of danger and landing a sharp left uppercut. The momentum continued in the sixth round as Masoud gained control of the distance, allowing him to land cleaner shots.
As the bout progressed, the judges were tasked with deciding between Sanmartin's consistent pressure and Masoud's precision. While one judge favored Sanmartin (96-94), the other two scored the fight 98-92 and 96-94 in favor of Masoud, securing the win and allowing the WBA number six ranked contender to continue his journey towards a world title.
Despite the victory, Masoud, his trainer Ben Davison, and promoter Eddie Hearn were candid in their assessment. Hearn, known for his brutal honesty, expressed disappointment, stating Masoud seemed "miles off the pace" for a world championship contender. Acknowledging the need for improvement, Hearn emphasized the desire for Masoud to return stronger.
While Hearn believed Masoud was fortunate to secure the win, he maintained his belief in the young fighter's potential. In the face of intense criticism during the post-fight interview, Masoud displayed resilience, acknowledging the need for improvement and expressing his focus on returning to the gym for further refinement.
My verdict, therefore, is not a dismissal of Masoud's talent but a recognition of the need for a patient and strategic approach to his career. As Masoud continues his journey, the emphasis remains on gradual development, ensuring that when the time comes for a championship level, he'll be more than ready to shine on the grand stage.