Trainer Dave Coldwell believes a Rotherham boxing derby will propel Lee Appleyard towards a British title.
Appleyard goes up against Atif Shafiq on the undercard of Kell Brook’s clash against Sergey Rabchenko at Sheffield Arena on March 3.
The 30-year -old family man won the vacant English Lightweight Title last July, stopping previously unbeaten Lancastrian Steve Brogan in six rounds at Doncaster Dome.
He had a six round points win in November at the same venue over Hungarian Zoltan Szabo but now faces a more dangerous opponent in the skilled, slick Shafiq.
“It’s a good fight for Lee, and hopefully it’s one that gets him nearer towards a British title shot” said Rotherham-based Coldwell.
“I managed to get Lee in some very good positions last year such as fighting Sean Dodd for the Commonwealth title live on Sky Sports at the Echo Arena, (April) but that was a night where he came up short.
“He’s returned brilliantly since that setback as he’s won the English title, and he’s beat some decent names along the way too.
“He’s had a good little sample of the level he wants to be at, so a win over Shafiq should hopefully provide a platform to return there.”
Referring to his opponent in March Coldwell said: “Shafiq is someone I know quite well. He’s from the Ingle gym and good things were expected of him early in his career.
“I’ve watched him up close, and he’s someone who is very skilful and who can cause a lot of problems.
“The good thing about Lee though is that he treats every opponent with the utmost respect so he won’t be found wanting at any stage in the fight.
“He treats every single fight the way a true professional should, and I think that gives him the edge a lot of the time.
“It promises to be a cracking fight, but I do think my man will be the one who comes out victorious.”
n Boxing’s place at the 2020 Olympic Games could be in jeopardy. The International Olympic Committee executive board has expressed its disapproval with the governance of AIBA, amateur boxing’s world governing body.
Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach, speaking in Pyeongchang ahead of the Winter Olympics, read a statement featuring seven decisions, the last of which warned boxing could be omitted from the Olympics if AIBA’s governance did not improve.
“The IOC reserves the right to review the inclusion of boxing on the programme of the Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018 and the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020,” he said.
Bach added: “We are extremely worried about the governance in AIBA.”
The IOC executive board was “not satisfied” with a report prepared by AIBA on its governance, finance, refereeing and anti-doping issues.
As a result, an investigation has been opened, led by the IOC chief ethics and compliance officer.