Hellraiser promoter Mickey Helliet in talks with 'revived' Reading heavyweight Sharif
Tuesday 22nd January 2019
After losing an insurmountable amount of weight to kick-start his pro-career, back in November 2013, Aji Sharif returns to the ring with a burning fire to take the heavyweight division by storm. He's stripped himself down with five defeats on his record and is ready to put that all behind him and continue producing exciting knockouts with his blistering, fan-friendly style.
Sharif has proved he can go the distance and withstand the onslaught of savagery and spiteful punchers in the upper echelons of modern-day boxing having shared the ring with unified champion Anthony Joshua back in the day.
His first three fights resulted in convincing fashion before receiving the first major wake-up call, suffering back to back losses to Lithuanian Ivanatas Davidaitas.
It was important for Sharif to go back to the drawing board and address the mistakes made early on before patiently awaiting his comeback, with the peace of mind those problems had been put to bed.
Relatively inexperienced as an amateur, compared to most, Sharif has made the switch from cruiserweight to heavyweight in what looks to be his preferred weight to campaign at in this second chapter of an embryonic career in the paid ranks.
More determined than ever in adopting an efficient training structure and nutrition plan, the 36-year old doesn't feel he's aged and with a fellow Brit Joe Joyce making the transition at 32, there still is time for Sharif to right those wrongs and elevate his position in the domestic rankings.
In a brief Q&A session, Sharif kept it short and sweet in his responses to the questions regarding his quest for silverware and being recognised as a top heavyweight contender:
How hard of a decision was it to return to boxing after a two-year lay-off, knowing the impact this would have on your profile and expectations in the sport?
"The decision wasn't that hard because I had every intention to return, but as I'm going up a weight division from cruiserweight to heavyweight. I needed a bit of time to get everything in order and to adjust. I think it will affect my profile in the sport in a positive way because it's like I'm studying from scratch in a weight division I feel most comfortable and definitely know that I can dominate."
Are the goals/aspirations you had before taking this time off the same now and how confident are you that stepping up to heavyweight can produce the very best results at this stage of your career?
"My goal from the beginning was to make an impact and to win titles and I still believe I can achieve this. As you may be aware I was a super-heavyweight throughout my amateur career and was very successful in that weight division. When I turned pro, I lost over 3 and a half stones to come down to cruiserweight. I didn't think I was fighting at the best of my ability as a cruiserweight but now as I'm going up to heavyweight I feel more confident, comfortable and very strong and I will definitely showcase my skills in the division."
What considerations did you need to take after your first ten fights in terms of your team, training structure, background noise etc. or have you kept the same close-knit affiliations to help steer your career in the right direction?
Throughout the first 10 fights I did make a lot of changes and adjustments to what I thought would benefit me but still, I didn't feel myself so that's why the time off has definitely helped me to think clearly and now come back and make the right choices to guide my career on the right path. The main change is the weight class so the training, diet, coaching all had to change.
What're your thoughts on the current climate of the heavyweight division, and how far do you see yourself (knowing your potential) from mixing it with the very best, domestically?
"I think compared to a few years ago, the heavyweight division has definitely livened up. The U.K. has produced great heavyweight fighters and the standard is definitely causing hype in the division. I think I'll do great and definitely will be up there with the best as I have an exciting and aggressive fighting style that will be difficult for other heavyweight fighters to deal with and also entertaining for the public to watch."
Seeing Tyson Fury overcome all those obstacles and similar time out of the ring to you, to step back into the elite tier of the division, how much more motivation does that give you in putting together a streak of wins on your return?
"Seeing Tyson do what he did and fighting at that level with a dangerous opponent after all his problems and time off was incredible and definitely gave me the final push to get myself back into action and back to winning ways. It gave me a lot of motivation to never give up and keep going and aiming for the top. I had a very good amateur background fighting the top fighters. The only person to give me problems in the amateurs at the time was Anthony Joshua who has gone onto achieve great things. I didn't have many amateur fights, just under 20 fights before turning pro but I did mix it with very good and well-known fighters. My style of fighting always suited the professional game so that transition wasn't that hard for me. "