RIVAL camps in the all-Rotherham boxing showdown between Lee Appleyard and Atif Shafiq are predicting an intriguing scrap when the two meet at the Sheffield Arena next month.
The fight, on the undercard of Kell Brook’s much anticipated return against Sergey Rabchenko, will offer a stepping stone to bigger things for the winner.
Both want to make a stamp on the domestic lightweight rankings, with Appleyard having relinquished his English title to take the ten-rounder in front of the Sky TV cameras on March 3. Shafiq is six years his junior and is eyeing a British title further down the line.
In a public workout session at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield today, both camps talked up what they are billing a “local derby.”
Appleyard’s manager Dave Coldwell said: “This is the kind of fight Lee has been waiting for, it’s a big local showdown everyone is talking about. It’s on a Sky show and it leads to something else.
“Lee has won the English title and it’s time to push on now and see how far he can go. I’m happy with him. I think he’s got a great attitude and he deserves to have his moment. He's in a good spot mentally and it's about staying there."
Shafiq comes from the Ingle stable, a breeding ground for champions, and he wants to add his name to the list.
His trainer, Dominic Ingle, said: “Atif has had a couple of setbacks and in his first comeback fight he got stopped. Since then he’s had two wins, he’s never been out of the gym and he has got belief in himself.
“This fight is a big fight for him. It will be a good scrap, there is a lot of pride in fights at this level. It’s not a good guy against a bad guy. It’s two good guys and two good fighters.”
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