MALAYSIA’S Khir Akyazlan Azmi has to deal with an Olympic boxer and a former Asian Games champion at next month’s Kuala Lumpur SEA Games.
The 25-year-old two-time bronze medallist has never reached the final in the Games. And Khir expects the two favourites – Wuttichai Masuk of Thailand and Charyl Suarez of the Philippines – to stand in his way for a place in the 64kg final.
“I really want a shot at the gold but these two boxers are the strongest in South-East Asia. They are the favourites to reach the final,” said Khir.
“I’ve done my homework, watching video clippings of these two veterans in action. There will be 10 fighters in the 64kg category. I hope to get a favourable draw to avoid the favourites in the early rounds,” added Khir.
Suarez, who competed in the 2016 Rio Olympics, was the gold medallist in the 2011 SEA Games Jakarta. He defeated Khir in the semi-finals.
At the following SEA Games in Myanmar (2013), Wuttichai defeated Khir in the semi-finals before going on to win the gold.
Although the odds are stacked against him, Khir believes the home fans will spur him on when the competition begins at the Malaysian International Trade and Exhibition Centre (MiTec) in Kuala Lumpur from Aug 20-24.
“There’s nothing like home advantage. I really want to improve on my two bronzes. It will be tough but I’ve gained valuable experience from my two-month stint to Kazakhstan in May. This is my fourth SEA Games and I hope to raise the bar,” he said.
A total of six golds are at stake in boxing.
The other seasoned hand in the Malaysian squad is Mohd Fuad Redzuan (49kg).
The Malaysian Boxing Federation (MBF) have set a one gold target but it will be tough looking at the strong field of competitors.
Malaysia’s last success was at the 2009 Games in Laos.
Then, Mohd Farkhan Haron and Mohd Fairuz Azwan contributed a gold each.