Qais Ashfaq- "My biggest inspiration is my father"
Qais Ashfaq takes on fellow Brit Marc Leach on Saturday night in Peterborough on the Ritson vs Vazquez undercard and will be looking to extend his perfect professional record to 9-0-0. Qais had an illustrious amateur career, representing England at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth games and the 2015 European games whilst boxing at the 2015 European Championships and 2016 Rio Olympics for Great Britain. With such an impressive amateur pedigree, there have been comparisons made between himself and Amir Khan. Any British fighter that has excelled as an amateur will most certainly get people talking when they turn professional.
Qais turned professional in 2017 with the backing of David Haye and Hayemaker Ringstar where he trained alongside the likes of Jorge Linares, Joe Joyce and Willie Hutchinson. It was not too long before Eddie Hearn and Matchroom snapped him up and made his professional debut in 2018 against Brett Fidoe with Jamie Moore in his corner. Since then, he has gone on to win his next seven fights and winning the WBA Continental Super Bantamweight Title against Joe Ham in November 2019.
The Yorkshireman has had a busier lockdown than many with Qais recently became a father for the first time and made some crucial changes to the team around him. Becoming a father is life-changing and Qais managed to enjoy some quality time with his family during the lockdown and feels invigorated by the time out of the ring.
“Lockdown for me was okay, I recently become a Dad four months ago and I really enjoyed spending time as a family. He is growing really fast and it was nice to have some family time and reflect. I also made some changes to my management team and I look forward to what the future has in store for me. The only negative aspect of lockdown is that it felt like my career was put on hold for a short while, especially after winning my first title. My aim was to win the British title before the year was out, but I am still only 27 so I still have time on my hands.”
The transition from the amateurs to the professional ranks is different for fighters. With Qais having the amateur career he had, the expectation on his shoulders is something he must navigate and deal with.
“It feels as if I am being fast-tracked and I am enjoying it. I am training hard in the gym and I am always improving. I don’t have the luxury of learning the trade at a slow pace as most do, I am learning on the job most of the time and I thrive from it. Having boxed at the European Championships and the Olympics, it was a great experience, and I will use those experiences to my advantage. I am getting use to the pressure put on me and it makes me push myself harder”
Qais takes on Marc Leach this Saturday and they know a lot about each other already. Both fighters were friends, and both shared the ring with each other having sparred numerous amounts of rounds. Both fighters use to be coached in the same gym by different trainers so they will know each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
“We were in the same camp but with different coaches. We sparred quite a bit, so I know what I am getting myself into but for me, it is all about impressing my new coaches and getting the win on fight night.”
There have been comparisons drawn between Qais Ashfaq and Amir Khan, with boxers having represented Great Britain and being of British-Pakistani heritage. I asked Qais if Amir was a huge inspiration to him in the boxing world and if he could learn anything from his career moving forward.
“Of course, Amir has had a great career so far and achieved so much but my father is my biggest inspiration. He has always worked hard and that great work ethic he has, he installed into me. I grew up idolising him and I always will.”
The future certainly looks bright for Qais and with the change of trainer and management team, he has a chance to progress his career with a win on Saturday night.
“I want to win the British title as soon as possible and then go onto fighting for the European and World honours. I am learning fast and I have the best promoter in Eddie Hearn helping guide my career, so I am in a really good position. I know I can’t look too far ahead because I am fighting Marc this weekend, but I am going to beat him and beat him convincingly. I fully expect the first few rounds to be like a chess match, but I am too big and too strong for him. I can’t wait for Saturday night.”
Things are looking really bright for Qais Afshaq and I fully expect him to be a household name within the next 12-18 months.