Kash Farooq had just finished watching the Ivan Baranchyk vs Jose Zepeda war when Boxing Social rang up to interview him. Just one in a long list of fights that the Glasgow student has taken in during his time away from the sport.
“I’ve watched that many it would take me forever to name them. It’s a long list,” said Farooq (13-1, 6 KOs) who loves nothing more than to spend hours watching the legends of yesteryear such as Sugar Ray Robinson.
Returning to the carnage that ensued on October 3d inside the Top Rank Bubble in Las Vegas, Farooq remarked: “It might not have looked like it, but they were thinking all the time. I know they were constantly throwing big shots. but they were thinking.” Something that only a fellow pro can say when reviewing the front runner for the 2020 fight of the year.
Eight knockdowns, five rounds, the type of fight that can define the two men in the ring on the night and shorten what they have to offer for the rest of their careers. Farooq, like many, hasn’t been involved in such a rock em’, sock em’ affair. One day it might happen but it’s not something he is specifically seeking out.
“You can never tell. You have to adapt on the night to what comes at you. On the night if it were to happen to me then you just go with it,” he said. “You can never predict what your opponent will do really. You can plan for it but sometimes you have got to adapt as the fight goes on.”
The 24-year-old had a proper square go with Edinburgh’s Lee McGregor last November. A domestic 2019 fight of the year candidate that could have gone the way of the Pakistan-born bantamweight who has spent most of his life in Scotland’s biggest city.
In defeat Farooq gained plenty. There were plaudits and admirers, including promoter Eddie Hearn who swiftly signed Farooq to a deal with Matchroom Boxing. The future had never looked brighter despite suffering his first professional loss. Farooq’s debut for the Essex-based team should have come in April this year, but the relentless Covid-19 Pandemic and its impact put paid to all British boxing shows for months.
After another postponement in June, Farooq makes his third attempt at a Matchroom debut on October 17. The opponent has yet to be announced but after 11 months out getting back to boxing is more than enough for Farooq, no matter who is in the other corner or what is on the line.
“It’s been a frustrating time,” he said echoing the words of every boxer up and down Britain. “I’ve still been doing my runs and staying fit. It’s been boring at times other than that. But at the same time, it’s been good to slow things down. You always look for momentum and I had that last year. And, because of that, I was always looking for the next fight and who it was against. But because of the postponements and not having a date, me and my coach [Craig Dickson] have been able to work on things and take our foot off the gas a little, allowing us to focus on what we can do to improve me as a fighter.”
While the acceleration of his career may have slowed somewhat, time is on his side at just 24. Impressively, he has already won the British bantamweight title outright as Iain Butcher, Kyle Williams and Duane Winters were all beaten after Farooq had won the vacant title by destroying Jamie Wilson in one round in September 2018. So October 17 heralds a new chapter in Farooq’s career and one which had the opening paragraph already written not once but twice.
“I’ve been one of the unlucky ones being out this long but now I can get going again and I’m really excited,” he said. “I’ve been watching the Matchroom shows and the prospect of no fans doesn’t concern me. I train alone, I’m used to being on my own in the gym. What matters is when you are in the ring. When your focus is on the other guy then you forget about what is around you. I can’t wait for October 17.”
Main image: Farooq (right) in 2019’s fight of the year contender against fellow Scot Lee McGregor. Photo: MTK Global.