Ashfaq the Conqueror
Two years after picking up his first ABA title, Leeds’ very own Qais Ashfaq made it a double success last weekend and now has his eyes firmly set on the Commonwealth Games.
The 21-year-old Burmantofts boxer clinched a unanimous point’s decision on Sunday to reclaim his ABA crown from West Ham’s Lucien Reid in the bantamweight division.
Ashfaq faced three bouts in three days as he overcame the tough schedule to reaffirm his place as the number one amateur in his weight division and a favourite now to represent England at Glasgow 2014.
Having not competed at the 2013 ABA finals, the Yorkshireman said it was his job to reclaim a title he never truly lost and explained how this victory compared to his last.
“It was a great experience to win it again,” Ashfaq said. “It was perhaps more important this time to me personally because it has set me up perfectly for the Commonwealth Games this summer.
“It was a tough three days but I am so pleased to have won it and now I want to go on and pick up Gold in Glasgow.”
Despite three unanimous point’s victories over his opponents on the way to picking up the national accolade, Ashfaq said he was ‘made to work for his title’.
Overcoming ‘knockout-artist’ Lee Mitchell in the quarter-finals, the heavy-hitter moved on to defeat Doncaster’s Reece Mould in the semis and London’s Lucien Reid in the three-round final.
“I was going into the finals as the number one seed in my division and had to box three really good kids on my way to victory,” he explained.
“There was a bit of pressure being the number one but I was always confident of my ability.
“In the final I faced Lucien Reid, who was last year’s champ. He has an awkward stance and is good on his feet but with the tactics my coaches had planned I was able to defeat him and reclaim the ABA title.”
Ashfaq was competing in the bantamweight division for the first time at the ABA’s having previously won the top prize in the featherweight class.
It is in the bantamweight division that he hopes to fulfil his ambition of competing in Glasgow when the Commonwealth Games arrive and he explained what it would mean to fight on the world stage.
“I won Gold in the Commonwealth Youth Games before but have never competed at the senior games,” he added.
“To be able to do so, in front of what will be a home crowd for GB competitors, will be an amazing experience and after winning the ABAs I am confident of winning Gold in Scotland.”
The promising local boxer will find out later this month whether he is included in the England team who will travel to Glasgow for the July Games.