FARNWORTH’S rising star Sahir Iqbal has won his first professional title – a belt once held by boxing superstar Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.

The 24-year-old produced a slick display to inflict a first defeat on Welshman Maredudd Thomas and win the WBC World Youth welterweight title.

Iqbal took the decision 77-76, 78-75, 78-74 on the three judges’ scorecards after eight back and forth rounds on MTK Global’s show behind closed doors at Production Park Studios in Wakefield.

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Mexican great Alvarez won the same title back in 2009 and has gone on to be one of the sport’s biggest attractions.

“Over lockdown everyone was taking time off but I didn’t stop,” said Iqbal, who has now won eight fights out of eight as a professional after a decorated amateur career.

“I want to thank my brother and my coach Johnney Roye because they push me constantly all the time, and it’s paid off.

“For this to be my first title it shows where I’m going and I’m on the way.

“Some big names have held this belt, and that’s where I want to get to, pushing for world titles.”

Iqbal far from had things his own way, Thomas putting him under real pressure in the fifth round in particular.

He weathered the storm though to re-establish control behind his jab and take the victory in a fight that lived up to the billing as an eagerly-anticipated clash between two unbeaten fighters.

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“He caught me with a good shot,” Ibqal said when asked about the fifth.

“I don’t think I was exactly buzzed but I’m smart enough to know that when you get caught with a good shot you don’t go in swinging because that’s when you’re most likely to get caught with another one.

“I wasn’t really rocked but I used my brain, he might have stolen the round but I used my brain and moved around.

“The plan was to get in there and in the middle rounds put it on him, but I changed my gameplan a bit and got on the jab and moved and outboxed him.

“I like working on the inside but I knew doing that might be risky so I played it safe, got the rounds in, went back to the amateur style and picked up the points.”