Aiming for the top
Uzbek boxer Abduqaxorov sees WBC welterweight Silver Title fight as a step towards world title
He first laced up a pair of old leather gloves when he was 10, hoping it would be his way out of poverty.
Now 23, Qudratillo Abduqaxorov is on the cusp of hitting the big time in the world of professional boxing.
The Uzbek has 10 wins from 10 fights, and is currently the 77th-ranked welterweight boxer in the world.
On March 25, he will enter the ring for the biggest fight of his life when he takes on Charles Manyuchi for the Zimbabwean's WBC welterweight Silver Title at the OCBC Arena, in the "Road to Glory" event presented by Cartel International Promotions.
A win over his 27-year-old opponent, who has 20 wins from 23 fights, will put Abduqaxorov in the frame for a shot at the WBC world title, once held by luminaries like Sugar Ray Leonard, Oscar de la Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr, and currently held by American Keith Thurman.
"I am 100 per cent sure I can beat Manyuchi but, having said that, I am sure he feels the same as well," Abduqaxorov told The New Paper in a recent e-mail interview.
"I want to win the Silver Title more than anything I ever wanted up to this point in my life."
Born in the small Uzbek city of Kurgontepa, where the population of 20,000 people mainly work in cotton, tool or sewing factories, the fighter is determined to make the most out of his burgeoning boxing career.
"I have had hardship all my life, and my family lives in poverty," said Abduqaxorov, who goes by the nickname "The Punisher".
"Boxing was the only option for me to change my life.
"Now I have the chance to put Uzbekistan on the world map, and also make my family proud."
The four-time Uzbek national amateur boxing champion is leaving little to chance in his preparations.
He has spent the last three weeks training at the Elorde Boxing Gym in Quezon City, Philippines, where Manny Pacquaio used to train before some of his fights.
Abduqaxorov admitted to feeling "a bit nervous" ahead of the fight, but insisted he has enough experience to handle whatever Manyuchi is about to unleash.
He is determined to seal another win to enhance his reputation.
"By the end of the year, I target to be in the top 10 in the world rankings, although I know how difficult it is," he said.
"My long-term ambition is to be world champion and, one day, unify all the belts (from the four major boxing promotions), and become the undisputed lineal champion."