SHAFIQ DETERMINED NEW SETUP WILL CAST A SHADOW OVER PERIOD OF STAGNATION
Monday 25th February 2019
Plagued by injury, having undergone multiple surgical procedures on his right elbow and relocating gyms has meant that Atif Shafiq has been unable to force himself into a position to challenge for the British title.
However, having started training with Haroon Headley in Manchester and one of the most improved trainers in Dave Coldwell, who will look after the management side of things, Shafiq feels rejuvenated to kick-on in 2019 and mix it with the very best at 135lbs.
With 19 wins and just 2 defeats on his record, the Rotherham fighter parted ways with Dominic Ingle (on mutual terms), earlier this year, and turned his attention to a fresh chapter, becoming the latest addition to Coldwell's young, ambitious stable.
Shafiq has been sparring multiple rounds with unbeaten Jordan Gill (22-0) ahead of his WBA International featherweight bout with Emmanuel Dominguez, in Peterborough, this weekend and is on the verge of getting a crack of the Lonsdale belt, held by Lewis Ritson.
The 25-year-old was due to face Andy Townend in a final eliminator, before the Christmas break, but, after picking up a niggle in training, he was left with no choice but to postpone the initial date and continue with rehabilitation.
Townend will now face Ritson for the gold crown on the undercard of Charlie Edward's headline at the Copperbox show on March 23 and Shafiq will certainly have a firm eye on the winner having waited patiently for his opportunity to shine under the bright lights once more.
As we've seen before, a year of inactivity can certainly play on a fighter's mind, when stepping back between the ropes, but with a date scheduled for the end of next month and being consummate professional inside and out of the ring, Shafiq will be itching to remain active this year.
Shafiq has spent time around world champions and knows exactly what it takes to reach the pinnacle and knowing what way to guide his career in the best possible way meant the Yorkshireman had to switch camps and concentrate on fulfilling this mission.
We await confirmation of an opponent but knowing what is at stake for Shafiq, on the domestic scene, will only spur him on to gather together another couple of wins and be fully prepared for either Ritson or Townsend when push comes to shove.
In a short Q&A, Atif Shafiq opened up on departing the Ingle gym, what he'd learnt from his time there, new goals and ambitions under a new management team and how much boxing gives him the drive and sanity to achieve more:
- How did the link-up with Dave Coldwell come about, and how will this ignite this new chapter in your career?
"[Dave's] a good manager and I've seen what he's done with Jordan Gill and other fighters. My second professional fight was on one of his shows, so I've known of Dave for many years,
always got along with him, so that to me was an inevitable decision, choosing Dave as a manager, especially with his link up with Sky Sports and Eddie Hearn as well."
- How was it sparring Jordan Gill? How much improvement has this made to your style and the necessary adjustments to compete at the top level?
"He's got a good avenue there, and hopefully, with the link-up, opportunities will come. I'm looking forward to it. I'm training in Manchester at champ's camp, Mosside, with Haroon Headley. I'm learning all the time and obviously, I've taken things we've learnt over the last six-eight weeks, sparring with Jordan Gill, who I've sparred for years and years. He's made massive improvements since leaving the Ingle gym and I feel as though, over the six weeks I've been sparring him, I made improvements week by week and Dave Coldwell and Jordan; they both... and even Anthony Fowler, who was watching at the time, said 'From when you first come to now... the difference is massive already. So, it's all good, it gives me confidence that I've made the right move at the right time. With the choice of the trainer and hopefully now, we start getting active, It'll be the right move with the choice of manager. I'm looking forward to March 30, back at Magna [Centre, Rotherham]. I've boxed there a few times and it's my hometown, so, hopefully, I'll do plenty of tickets and just looking forward to getting back in the ring now. Getting consistent and getting flowing.
- What have you learnt from your past decisions in previous camps when preparing for fights?
"For me, boxing and training, it's my life. It keeps me sane, so, there was no doubt... there's nothing else for me to do. [During] the year of inactivity, I could've either been in the gym and learning, doing what I love to do or be at home, miserable and down. So, that was never in the question, whether I'm going to be in the gym or not, I'm always learning and trying new things."
"I picked up a lot from the fighters I was around at the time, the likes of Billy Joe Saunders, Kell Brook, Kid Galahad, Jason Quigley, Liam Williams. Like I said, I made the move at the right time and I'm happy with how things have settled. Over at Coldwell's gym, I've been helping out Jordan, who has been a good friend of mine for seven, eight years now, which was good preparation for his fight coming up on Saturday."
- What have you learnt or gained from the year of inactivity in getting yourself in the right physical and mental frame in meeting targets for the New Year and completing this mission to the top?
"It's all systems go now. I'm looking forward to getting back in there on March 30 and getting a good win, pushing on, getting into some big championship fights and picking up titles. That's the plan for 2019. I want to pick up a good strap, whatever that may be. I want to pick up my first meaningful strap. I've got the right team behind me and I'm putting in the work, as always, that's going to be the difference. With me being consistent, working hard in the gym, regardless what gym it was, where it is, I'm always working and that will come back in my favour for when I'm in the championship fights."