British boxing champion by the end of the year: Atif Shafiq’s pledge. But set-back for Nav Mansouri
Atif Shafiq is champing at the bit to get back in the ring after almost a year off - and claims he can be British champion by the end of 2019.
Rotherham's Shafiq, who left the Ingle gym because he felt he "needed a change re-vitalise myself and my career," was supposed to have been back in action last Friday, but the show at Norton, Sheffield, had to be postponed.
However, he said manager Dave Coldwell should be getting him back in action soon.
Speaking to Pep Talk UK Shafiq said it had been frustrating he had not been able to build on his stoppage win of Lee Appleyard on a Kell Brook undercard at Sheffield Arena last March.
An expected "big fight" at lightweight never materialised and he also had to have surgery on his right elbow.
"I've not been in the ring for almost a year. But one thing with me is that I love the game” he said. "I am always learning, I am always in the gym...my routine continues."
Shafiq, who has sparred with the likes of Josh Warrington and Jordan Gill, said: "In 2019, I want to win that British title. I believe by the end of this year I will do that.
"There is no one there that I can't beat" said Shafiq, who is now trained by Manchester's Haroon Headley.
There was disappointment last weekend for another Rotherham fighter, Nav Mansouri. Mansouri, 29, (previously W19-L1-D2) lost in a 12-round split decision to Jorge Fortea, 28, (18-1-1.) It was his first reverse since 2012.
The pair had been competing for the IBF Intercontinental super-welterweight crown on Saturday, at the Palacio de los Deportes, Malaga.
Mansouri, who successfully defended his English title against Sheffield's Sam Sheedy at the Magna Centre in 2015, was "gutted" with the verdict.
He said his team had witnessed the "sad side to boxing.”
He said: “I feel I did enough to win the fight but unfortunately the judges had a different agenda.
"Nevertheless we will fight on and we will take what is ours."