Shafiq’s perfect 14-bout record ends against Olympian Cesar

Atif Shafiq, right, in his defeat against Cesar Abdon. Picture: Dean Woolley
Atif Shafiq, right, in his defeat against Cesar Abdon. Picture: Dean Woolley

Setbacks can often prove the best lessons of all.

So it will be interesting to see how Rotherham’s skillful Atif Shafiq learns from a shock first career defeat to Abdon Cesar at iceSheffield on Friday night.

All the skill in the world is of no use if you cannot impose your will on a contest and establish control, something which Shafiq allowed to slip from his grasp from the second round onwards.

While the ultimate outcome may have been a surprise, there was little doubt over the result after eight hard fought rounds in which the Cameroonian had the edge from the early stages.

In the first round however, no such result could have been predicted as 20-year-old Shafiq was in full control, seemingly heading for the British Masters lightweight title that was up for grabs.

The Ingle-trained fighter looked incredibly classy, darting in and out of range and tagging Cesar with a particularly accurate jab, followed up by some meaningful hooks.

But London 2012 Olympian Cesar had more of a say in the second, drawing Shafiq into a scrap that he never really wanted as he skills were increasingly nullified.

Cesar truly turned the tide in the third, landing a big right hook early in the round which seemed to unsettle Shafiq. Cesar worked well off his jab and stayed out of trouble.

While Cesar had produced his best round, he continued to dictate the pattern and pace. Shafiq’s accuracy abandoned him and it caused him to tire, while he was consistently drawn into a wrestle.

Shafiq came out strongly for the final round and found his rythym once again, slipping in an increasing number of shots as Cesar tired.

But it was too little too late for Shafiq who fell to a 77-75 decision, ending his perfect record in his 14th bout.

Much of the rest of Dave Coldwell’s latest promotional offering brought stoppages.

Rotherham’s Kash Ali kicked off the night by wiping out Lukas Skirca inside the first two minutes of his heavyweight four rounder.

Skirca walked onto a massive uppercut and doubled over with referee Howard Foster only taking his count to three before waving the bout off.

Barnsley fighter Josh Wale’s bout against Aivaras Balsys was a tune up contest ahead of his British super bantamweight challenge early next year.

But he wasted little time working on his skill as he won inside two rounds. Balsys was put down twice in the second round after being weakened by body shots and on the second occasion, the official had seen enough.

Rotherham’s Lee Appleyard continued the stoppage theme as he overwhelmed Michael Stupart in the first round.

Former unlicensed fighter Jos Paul, trained by Clinton Woods, picked up a debut pro victory by outpointing John Weeks over four roundsin r a 40-37 decision.

West Melton’s Brad Botham earned his first victory, outpointing Shaun McShane in Scotland.