By Matt Bevan

Atif Shafiq will return to action on Saturday 21st at the Preston Guild Hall on ITV4 and he will be hoping to put a frustrating 2016 firmly behind him in the rear view mirror.

The 16-1 (4 KOs) prospect, who trains out of the famous Ingle Gym, confirmed to Boxing Scene that he is currently slated to fight German-based Kazakh Andreas Maier (5-0, 4 KOs) on the card and is looking to add to his four stoppage wins.

‘Unique’ was last in action in December 2015 when forced Santos Medrano to quit after three rounds in Carshalton, but injuries scuppered his chances of building his way up into British title contention.

“I’ve had my final spar and I’m ready to go,” he said. “I’ve been waiting for a while, but as you know in the boxing game it doesn’t always go to plan, so hopefully Saturday my patience will pay off.

“I’m in a six-round fight with Maier, but I have no intention of letting it go the distance. It’s been a frustrating year as I had to let my injury recover fully and then I couldn’t get on a show, but with ITV coming on board then hopefully there will be more dates for everyone.”

“I want to be in contention for or fighting for the British title by the end of the year,” Shafiq continued, “and I’ll be going down to lightweight. I didn’t think I’d be as comfortable as I am making that weight, but it’s worked out, so I’ll get this out of the way and then I’ll focus my attention on pursuing the Lonsdale belt.”

Shafiq has remained in the gym at Wincobank despite his injury and recently enjoyed some top quality sparring with the likes of Zhanat Zhakiyanov and Gavin McDonnell, who are both in training for world title matchups with Rau’shee Warren and Rey Vargas respectively.

He describes the atmosphere in the famous Sheffield gym as “buzzing” and says that the group are all preparing towards their upcoming dates. The Rotherham-born man is also setting his sights on more meaningful fights this year.

“It’s exciting times ahead for the whole gym as we all have dates and the group are very tight. Kell Brook is obviously a world champion and Kid Galahad will be there in a couple of fights so they’re in the lead with us chasing them.

“I’ve been sparring with Zhakiyanov, who is an extremely strong man, as well as Gavin who I did some great rounds with. Lee Selby’s camp also came up and I went in with Tamuka Mucha who is a welterweight that really made me work hard.

“I’ve been waiting all year for a fight and I’ll reap the rewards on Saturday. I’ve done my learning and I want meaningful contests to put me in the right position, so they have to be perfect fights to keep me active.

“I can’t wait to get back in the ring and show everyone what I can do on a huge platform in ITV.”