Bilal Mahasin: Redemption Through The Ring
“I had a fight on ESPN2 in 2002 and then I got picked up just after that.” Those are the words of Bilal Mahasin, a Bay Area junior welterweight prospect who had his professional boxing career delayed by ten years. “I was picked up for first degree armed robbery in Missouri. I was using a different name in California and I was identified by my tattoos. [Police] say they found me, because of the ESPN2 fight.” Mahasin fought one amateur fight before he turned pro during the time he was wanted for robbery. He used the name Manuel Rose.
In 2012, Mahasin was released from prison after serving 10 out of his 12 year sentence and found himself back in Northern California, though not in the ring until 2013. “I faced the top guy in my division in the area,” he told me. That man was Moris Rodriguez, a man who is best known for his 2012 KO win over rising welterweight prospect Jonathan Chicas. Mahasin is not very impressed with Chicas. “He is supposedly one of the top welterweights in the Bay,” Mahasin stated.
Mahasin explained the tension between Chicas and himself stemmed from an incident at Virgil Hunter’s gym when Jonathan Chicas would not spar Mahasin. “I felt offended. I am all for Bay unity, but if you don’t want to spar I assume that you view me as someone you might want to face down the line. I called him out and he didn’t want to spar with me or Amir Khan, the best guys. Instead. He just sparred with Stan “The Man” Martyniouk.” Mahsin expanded on the statement, “Now I want to fight him. I tried to fight him on the Golden Boy card [Golden Boy Live in Salinas, CA] and he didn’t want the fight. That’s a fight I want.”
Mahasin, who faces Mike “Yes Indeed” Reed in Washington D.C., cherishes the fact that he will once again be on the road facing tough opposition. “My mindset is so much different than these fighters. I grew up fighting. I liked to fight. At age fifteen I would go to the boxing gyms to spar with world champions. I might not have amateur fights, but I have been around violent situations all my life and dealing with that kind of stuff,” he commented.
Mahasin went on to share a story about a sober moment when he first was in prison and was in a fight with another inmate, one much bigger, and known for a violent history. “My life was on the line and he had a weapon. I won that fight and that is the mindset I bring to the fights.” For Mahasin, the concept of point fighting or training for boxing pleasure is ridiculous. Mahasin brings raw aggression brought on from living with in some harsh environments. It is the underestimation of Mahasin’s level of grit and perseverance that he believes has him in the position to play spoiler to the hometown favorite, Reed. “They look at my record, the lack of the amateur career, see a long layoff, know I was in prison, and look at my body, and think I am more of a bodybuilder than a boxer,” he said.
That assumption is a mistake Mahasin thinks will be costly. When looking at the records the man with 5 KOs out 7 wins would be Mike Reed. Mahasin is still without a career knockout heading into his fifth fight. Mahasin believes that the work with top welterweight Amir Khan is something that Reed will not be able to deal with. “Amir Khan is so fast, you can’t even block all those punches he throws. You have to either block or try to get out of the way.” In short, Mahasin just doesn’t believe that Reed has what he has not seen in the gym working with Amir Khan.
“I was born in Sunnydale [San Francisco neighborhood] and moved to Oakland. I lived in East LA and I was in prison in Missouri, with no one who had my back. I had to fight every time I moved for one reason or another. Fighting is nothing new for me.” Mahasin believes the adversity he faced early on and through his trials and tribulations is what makes him take pride in coming into his opponent’s corner. “I normally come in as the other guy. I take pride in beating guys in their hometown. I think it means more.”
Despite a good record many believed Mahasin should have lost to Moris Rodriguez last October. Mahasin is showing that he is more than willing to travel to fight. He has the spirit of the old school, you say you are the best, then prove it. He has spent his whole life being tested, for better and for worse.
Mahasin, once again will be coming out of the opponents corner on March 7th, 2014 at the Rosecroft Raceway in Fort Washington, Maryland. Mahasin plans to do what he always does, beat someone in their hometown.