Niaz tipped for the top

Qasim Niaz

Qasim Niaz

First published in Latest Sport This Is Local London: Photograph of the Author by , Sports reporter

BLACKBURN boxer Qasim Niaz has been tipped to be East Lancashire’s next big thing after delivering his best performance as a professional.

Niaz eased to victory over Bulgarian Danny Donchev at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens and the welterweight’s display was so impressive that he is now scheduled to be back in the ring as soon as April 11.

The 22-year-old will face an as yet unconfirmed opponent on the undercard to Shayne Singleton’s WBC international silver welterweight title fight with Jose Del Rio at the Colne Muni.

Niaz is trained by Kevin Maree at Stirk House in Gisburn and has now won his first three professional bouts.

“I think he’s going to be the next big star from this area,” Maree said.

“I know there are a few boxers around at the moment but I think Qasim is going to be the next star.

“He’s a monster at 6ft 1ins and 10-and-a-half stone – and he’s not skinny, he’s strong.

“His reach means that opponents really have to think about how they get to him. They end up rushing in and he can pick them off because he’s a thinking boxer, and he can bang too.”

Niaz only discovered that he would face Bulgarian Donchev two days before the fight but coped admirably in the four-rounder.

“Qasim had an opponent and they pulled out so we got the opponent at two days’ notice,” Maree said.

“He was supposed to be 10st and he came in 11st 4lbs, but Qasim adapted to that.

“I think it was his best display to date. In his last couple of fights he had been a bit too rash and eager at times but this time he boxed to instructions, I wanted him to go the distance and get the rounds under his belt.

“The aim for the fight was I didn’t want him to get hit once – and he didn’t. He will be out again now on April 11, I think he is ready for another fight.

“But there’s absolutely no rush for him. I want him to have two four-rounders and that will take him up to the end of the boxing season in June and July. Then we’ll look to step him up to six-rounders.”

Niaz’s Stirk House stablemate Luke Blackledge is also on the April 11 card, as he fights for the first time since his challenge for the Commonwealth super middleweight title ended with defeat to Rocky Fielding in November.

But fellow Stirk House fighter Haidher Riaz, who has won his first two professional fights, has withdrawn from the card.

“Haidher’s going to be out for a couple of months,” Maree said.

“He’s had a problem with his wrist for a little while and feel it’s best he has an operation now so we get it right rather than it getting worse and causing him problems further down the line.”

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