Bradford’s sensational Bantamweight prospect Tasif Khan secured his first Championship accolade, the International Masters Bantamweight title, when he beat Georgia’s Mikheil Soloninkini by unanimous points decision at the iconic York Hall in London last Saturday night.
What really makes this achievement even more special is that Khan only returned to the ring in January this year, following a two year sabbatical from the sport.
On his return in January Khan scored a decisive first round stoppage victory, over the highly experienced Hungarian Richard Voros, in a bout that also took place at the York Hall.
Khan followed that win up with an equally impressive first round stoppage victory, over Czech Republic’s Ladislav Miko, six weeks later in Liverpool.
Last Saturday, whilst it seems everyone else were preparing for the Mayweather-Pacquiao super fight, Khan was taking part in the biggest fight of his career to date.
Right from the off Khan boxed beautifully behind his solid jab to keep his slightly more experienced foe on the back foot.
By midway point Khan began to slow the pace, whilst continuing to keep full pressure on Soloninkini.
Midway through the sixth round, during a rather hectic exchange Khan was a little slow bringing up his gloves, which opened the door for Soloninkini, who let rip with a big right to send Khan to the canvas.
On the restart Soloninkini when in hard in an attempt to finish the still slightly wobbly legged Khan, however the Bradford lad remained calm and collected, whilst the hyper Georgian continued to come forward throwing huge bombs.
During a number of these skirmishes Khan sensibly grabbed hold until referee Lee Murtagh issued the order break. This tactic allowed Khan a little time in order to clear his head.
Soloninkini continued to push hard for the final three rounds, however Khan is one seriously cool character, he just got behind his jab and just plain boxed his way out of danger, each time the Georgian made a forceful foray.
After ten rounds of first class boxing from Khan, judges Ken Curtis 99-94, Obie Garnett 98-90 and Matt Hamilton 98-91, all scored in favour of the new International Masters Champion Tasif Khan.
Speaking from his home earlier Khan spoke about the fight as well as hinted at further Championship forays in the near future.
“Yeah, I won my first title.
It’s been my dream since I was a kid, winning a title, hopefully this will be the first of many, onwards and upwards.
Saying that I don’t want to take away the importance of being the International Masters Champion, that was like winning a World title to me that night.
I’ve had a tough two and half years, I’ve come through it, got back fighting this year and now have a belt, yeah I’m really proud of what I’ve achieved.
I was absolutely fine coming into the fight, training went well, I went away with Nadeem Siddique one of my coaches, he’s a professional himself. I had a good training camp abroad, went to Greece,
Came into the fight brilliant, working of my jab, using my jab more as I felt I had a good chance, I was finding it quite comfortable to be honest, I was finding him quite easily with the jab.
He was a tough kid, took some good shots to the body, I found I could walk him down, then I think it was either the third or fourth round I overstretched my right arm, I felt at the time I must have damaged my shoulder, I tried not to show it, but as the rounds went on I struggled to throw big shots.
It wasn’t hurting, it did limit me on my shots as the fight went on, but I think I got a little complacent and gave him the opportunity to catch me with a good shot, it didn’t hurt me at all, but had to see that round through, because I had won every single round but that round, I boxed smart and stayed at a distance when I could and other times let him punch himself out.
To be honest I feel I could have stopped him, with all the pressure and that decided to just box my way through.
I’m really appreciative of my fans as always, they travel down to London in numbers, if all goes well though my next fight will be a lot nearer to home, maybe even Bradford, but I’m always grateful to my fans, even those that are unable to travel to watch me fight in London or Liverpool.
Since day one I’ve had good support, a great fan base, but fighting away all the time makes it hard for everyone to be at every fight, so I’d really love to do something big in Bradford, or at least more local and fingers crossed we’ll get a big title on that show.
I’d like to thank all my team, Martin Stainsby, Bee, Junior Witter, Rio (Gianluca Di Caro), Johnny Eames and all those that work behind the scene, I can’t forget to mention my Missus, she puts in all the hard work and puts up with me when I’m on a diet and my family, who have all been so supportive.
Before I forget I want to make a comment, I’ve been boxing since the age of ten, I made my mind up as the years went on that I wanted to really do something in Boxing, I had no intention of just making up the numbers, I had no option, I want to do well and win titles, I want to put Bradford on the map, winning the International Masters title has put me in the right direction, as such I want to dedicate the win to my eldest brother Tahir Khan, because if it wasn’t for him pointing me in the right direction, he’d keep me fit and take me to the gym, he’s the first person to totally support me in boxing, always been there for me and he’s the one that made all this possible.
As I say if it wasn’t for Tahir, I wouldn’t be in boxing and I wouldn’t have this International Masters belt, thank you for everything Tahir, really appreciate everything you’ve done for me.
I’d like to say a big thank you to my sponsors, Kingsland Business Recovery in Bradford, Broadway Solicitors in Oldham, Kesser Jewelers in Bradford and Vyomax Supplements from Manchester, they’ve been brilliant getting behind me so I can concentrate on my boxing.
Finally I would like to say a huge thanks to Mark Lyons and Billy James-Elliott, who gave me the opportunity to fight for the title on their show.”