Patience pays off as Sheffield boxer gets TV date

Atif Shafiq with Naseem Hamed, a former Sheffield world champion

Atif Shafiq with Naseem Hamed, a former Sheffield world champion

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Atif Shafiq will bounce back from a 13-month absence from the ring to share in the limelight in a New Year TV experience.

The Sheffield-Ingle trained lightweight will be announced his return on ITV 4, a channel trying to increase its market share of boxing viewers.

The event is co-promoted by Richard Poxon, and is one of a series of shows that ITV are planning for 2017, including box office events featuring Chris Eubank Jr and Carl Frampton.

Rotherham-born Shafiq fractured his wrist falling off a bike and hasn’t boxed since December 2015 - he has had to wait patiently on the sidelines as his gym-mates campaigned.

“The accident definitely set me back” he said.

“But I was straight back in the gym as soon as I could- I was even training when I had a pot on!

Ricky Hatton and Junior Witter - enemies once, now pals at the Ingle gym: Pic by Atif Shafiq

Ricky Hatton and Junior Witter - enemies once, now pals at the Ingle gym: Pic by Atif Shafiq

“While I had pretty much recovered half-way through the year and I waited through the whole year because I wanted everything in my hand to settle properly, there was no rush I am still young.

“I believe in two fights I will be back in the mix.

“I have this six rounder at Preston which will be on ITV 4 so it will be nice to get my name back out there” said Shafiq who turns 23 years old on Sunday.

The show is headlined by Robbie Davies Jnr v Willie Limond for the WBA Continental super lightweight title and Jack Arnfield v Mick Hall for the WBA International middleweight belt.

“I want to be in the position by the end of the year to be going for the British title at lightweight, the division is pretty empty, I think, and I’d like to sweep up there.

“Scotty Cardle (W21 L0 D1) is the champion, but I don’t rate him much, if I’m honest.

“With Poxon Sport getting me on the show I hope this is going to be the start of a good relationship.

“We are hoping to get somebody half decent as an opponent, you don’t want to be fighting a bum on TV!

“The show should be good for me and good for boxing. I want to make a statement, I am back and not looking to go the distance in this one. I want to be knocking people out and I believe I will.

“I think I can do that because of what has been going on behind the scenes.

“People don’t see how consistent I have been performing in the gym. I want to surprise a few people.”

Shafiq (W16 L1 D0) says the boxing public will one day be looking out for his cousin Adam, aged 15, currently training in Grant Smith’s stable.

n Sheffield’s Adam Etches is to fight John Ryder in London on April 2.

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