After winning Silver at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and representing Team GB at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Qais Ashfaq has made a perfect start to life in the paid ranks, and the 258-managed talent is itching to push on for more titles.
Currently 8-0, Leeds southpaw Ashfaq claimed his first professional Title last November, outscoring Joe Ham on a technical decision to become WBA Continental Super-Bantamweight Champion in Manchester, and has since switched things up behind the scenes as he begins what he calls 'the next chapter of his career'.
“I just felt like I needed a bit of a change,” said Ashfaq. “Me and Angel Fernandez had some friendly chat on social media and it was natural process. We got on straight away from that first session and I feel like he’s the perfect coach for me and what I need.
“Because of lockdown there was a lot of work over the phone to start with but once we got going face to face it was a lot easier after a slow start. Training in Loughborough is great for me being from Leeds, the facilities are unbelievable!”
The toughest test of Ashfaq’s career so far comes in the shape of friend and former sparring partner Marc Leach this Saturday, live on Sky Sports in the UK and DAZN in the US. The skilful ‘Livewire’ who remains unbeaten since losing his professional debut back in 2014, has since gone fifteen without loss.
“When the fight was put to us it was strange but we never shy away,” added Ashfaq. “Maybe they expect the same Qais they saw in sparring but sparring is different to fighting. Hopefully I will go out there and put on a great performance and win convincingly.
“When me and Marc get in the ring we won’t be friends but we will be shaking hands before and after. Once that bell rings, we’re enemies. I’ve been taking fights that were offered but it’s about time I get an opportunity like this. After I get this win I’m looking to push on towards that British Title.
“We have had a change in the whole set up, it wasn’t just coaching it was management as well. 258 are a great company to be working with and it’s exciting to see where the future goes. This is Ashfaq 2.0, the next level to my career and God willing it’s a very successful partnership. Im hoping to show what I’ve been learning with Angel and win well on Saturday.”
Ashfaq vs. Leach is part of a huge night of boxing at the East of England Arena in Peterborough, Geordie favourite Lewis Ritson (20-1, 12 KOs) takes on former long-reigning World Champion Miguel Vazquez (42-9, 16 KOs), Joe ‘Benwell Bomber’ Laws (9-0, 5 KOs) takes on Norwich's Rylan Charlton (5-0-1, 2 KOs) over six rounds at Super-Lightweight, West Rainton’s Thomas Patrick Ward (29-0, 4 KOs) fights Thomas Essomba (10-6, 4 KOs) over ten rounds at Super-Bantamweight and Catford's Ellie Scotney makes her professional debut against Bec Connolly (3-7) at Featherweight.