Crunch: Sheffield/Rotherham fighter’s night ends in seconds

Atif Shafiq
Atif Shafiq

ITV4’s assault on the TV boxing market was memorable for one single punch...but with it came the cruellest of irony for Atif Shafiq.

The blow of the night struck home on the jaw of Sheffield-Ingle boxer, just a half a minute into his come-back.

The Rotherham super lightweight had been aiming to re-establish his name on the bill, at Preston Guild Hall on Saturday - after being out of the game through injury since 2015.

But boxing can be brutally quick as the 23-year-old found out at the hands of Andreas Maier, born in Kazakhstan but living in Germany.

Shafiq had weathered a couple of stiff jabs but that was nothing compared to the overhand right which connected viciously with the top of his chin. Immediately, his legs buckled and he fell backwards, his eyes rolling.

He staggered to his feet and, his brain seemingly scrambled, tried hard to persuade the referee he was fine to continue but his efforts only served to persuade the official to halt the fight.

Shafiq had said before the fight he’d not wanted to go the distance - but he certainly didn’t have this in mind.

Afterwards, heavyweight David Price, an ITV4 pundit, claimed “the so-called Ingle style of fighting might not have done any favours there - they do fight a little bit unorthodox, chin in the air, leaning back and that resulted in a stoppage defeat for him.”

For Maier, 32, it was a hell of a way to make his debut outside his adopted homeland.

*Sheffield’s Adam Etches, who was ringside at the Lancashire show, expects ITV to take over from Sky as the nation’s top boxing broadcaster.

The Birley bomber fights John Ryder on the Eubank v Quinlan show to be shown live on ITV Box Office, on February 4 Etches said: “In the past ITV has always been very good and reached massive numbers, but once you’ve reached the pinnacle of the sport, (recently) then there’s been nowhere else to go but Sky.

“Now there’s ITV PPV, the elite fighters and Olympic gold medallist winners can really go to town on PPV, and ITV should do better numbers than Sky,” he said.