Boxing: Ashfaq has world title in his sights under David Haye’s management

Leeds boxer Qais Ashfaq. PIC: Scott Merrylees
Leeds boxer Qais Ashfaq. PIC: Scott Merrylees
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QAIS ASHFAQ admits he has left the amateur game with unfinished business.

The Leeds fighter had high hopes of securing bantamweight gold at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games but a nightmare preparation led to an early exit in the first round.

The 24-year-old was left with a choice – turning pro or keeping faith with the amateur game and bidding for compensation at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Ashfaq chose the former and feels a tricky decision will be fully justified when he is crowned champion of the world under the management of David Haye.

Ashfaq enjoyed a decent career as an amateur and exits that particular stage having won silvers at both the 2014 Commonwealths and the following year’s Europeans.

The Leeds fighter also took bronze at the 2015 European Games in Baku but it was the Rio 2016 Olympics that mattered most.

Ashfaq, though, broke his nose two months before his date with destiny in South America and then injured his hand before his first-round bout with Thailand’s Chatchai Butdee.

Ashfaq felt the Thai fighter had a lucky escape.

Retribution, though, will be taken out on the professional game’s super bantamweight rivals with the 24-year-old changing weights and confident of climbing right the way to the top under Hayemaker Ringstar.

Ashfaq told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “I’d have loved to have gone to another Olympics Games and get the medal that I always wanted but I think with Rio it just wasn’t meant to be.

“There were so many problems at the time when I was at Rio and that’s mainly why I didn’t perform.

“I feel like it just wasn’t meant to be. And for me, this year was the right time to turn pro.

“At the last Olympics I didn’t feel physically ready but now I feel physically ready going pro.

“I’d have loved to have won an Olympic medal but the main aim is the pro game to secure my future and to secure my family.

“I’d have loved to have won an Olympic medal but I think when God willing I have won the world title as a pro and secured myself in that way then I don’t think it will matter.”

Ashfaq turned pro with Haye alongside three other top prospects in fellow Olympian Joe Joyce plus Scottish fighter Willy Hutchinson and MMA star Michael Page.

“I feel good about it,” said Ashfaq.

“I feel like I deserve to be here and I think it is the right place for me to be right now because the more I step up the more I can show what I am made of.”

“There’s some very good names that have signed up with me - we have got a great line up and I think we are all more than capable of getting to the top.”

Reflecting on his amateur career and asked what percentage of his potential he reached, Ashfaq reasoned: “I feel like maybe 60 or 70 per cent. “I have got a lot more to show with the pro game behind me. There were good times and I have learnt a lot. Even when people wrote me off, I came out with medals.

“I don’t think I went into one tournament where I hadn’t been written off already.

“Personally, with certain aspects and injuries and stuff like that, I didn’t really have the best of luck in the amateur game.

“But now in the pro game hopefully that will be a totally different situation.”

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