KARACHI: Pakistan's star boxer Mehrullah Lassi is likely to make an international comeback next month after serving two-year suspension as it is expected that the selection committee will include him in the national squad for the Asian Boxing Championships which would be held in Zhuhai, China from June 5 to 14.
A top official of Pakistan Boxing Federation (PBF) told 'The News' on Tuesday that Mehrullah is swiftly getting into rhythm during the training in Seoul these days and it is expected that he would be in the final squad for the event in China next month.
"I have been receiving information from South Korea that Mehrullah is doing good during the training and is improving briskly and I am hopeful that he will make a place in the national squad," the PBF secretary Muhammad Akram Khan told The News.
"Mehrullah is a great boxer and if he makes a comeback it will boost the morale of other Pakistani boxers. He is a gutsy boy and I am hopeful that he will not only perform according to his potential but will also take the young lot along during the international assignments," Akram said.
It would be a great achievement for him to stage a comeback since he and his teammate Faisal Karim, was slapped with a life ban by the PBF in 2006 after both were tested positive for using cannabis at Colombo's South Asian Games. The organisers of the South Asian Games had recommended a six-month suspension but the PBF had surprisingly imposed a life ban on him.
However, it was later converted into two-year suspension as per International Boxing Association (AIBA) and World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) rules. The two-year ban expired in August 2008 and Mehrullah was seen for the first time in the boxing ring during the National Ranking Championship held here early this year.
However, a top official of the PBF says that after staying out for two years from boxing Mehrullah has now vowed that he will make a fresh start and will make a name for himself and Pakistan. Mehrullah vows not to be involved in any such scandal again.
The pugilist, who was awarded a record five million rupees by former President General Pervez Musharraf for winning the Asian Games gold, has said that it was a good feeling to be back, the two-year ban had done the damage as he missed the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
"I was unfortunate that I missed the Olympics because of the ban. But now i am back and it feels good, my parents also wanted me to start boxing again. Besides, I have also a family to look after now. But it's not only the financial aspect. Boxing runs in my blood and I love my country. Some play for fame, some for fortune, Mehrullah plays for Pakistan. I want to see Pakistan again on the victory podium in the major international events," the boxer said.
Akram said that the final squad for the Asian Championships in China will be announced tomorrow (Thursday). It is pertinent to mention here that currently 12 boxers including Rashid Fateh, Nadir (48kg), Muhammad Wasim (51kg), Muhammad Hussain, Ali Muhammad (54kg), Mehrullah Lassi, Qadir Khan (57kg), Tariq Zia (60kg), Arshad Hussain (64kg), Nadir Khan, Dur Muhammad (69kg), Nisar Khan (75kg) are training in Seoul under the supervision of coaches Arshad Hussain and Ali Bakhsh.
The squad will return on June 2 and six boxers along with four officials will be sent to China on June 6 to feature in the Asian Boxing Championships.