Ali Shah and Jason Curtis
By Andrew Wake:
Blackburn’s unbeaten welterweight prospect Ali Shah is waiting by the phone. The 24-year-old has been inactive for more than a year due to managerial issues but is now ready to take the domestic scene by storm, provided he’s given the opportunity.
And he’s hoping that some day soon a nice man from Matchroom Sport will give him a ring and offer him a spot in next Tuesday’s Prizefighter tournament at York Hall, Bethnal Green.
At present the line up is already in place for Eddie and Barry Hearn’s popular knockout tournament, but Shah understands that he’ll be first in line should anyone be forced to pull out.
If he does get the chance, it could see him come to face to with someone he once considered an ally. Junior Witter is in the competition and Shah enjoyed many hours of sparring with the former world champion when he was based the famous St Thomas’ Boys & Girls club in Wincobank, Sheffield.
“I sparred with Junior Witter when he was at his best. When he fought Vivian Harris I was chief sparring partner so I know what he’s all about and I know what his weaknesses are,” said Shah, 5 – 0 (2 KOs).
“The way to beat Junior is to mess about with his reflexes. He relies on his them too much. He dips and bends back too much so if I fake punches, he’ll be open and I can land my shots.”
Stepping into Prizefigher might seem like an ambitious step for a man who has not fought since stopping Andrew Patterson in two rounds 13 months ago. But Ali is fighter who could never be accused of lacking confidence.
“I feel I could do ten or twelve rounds with any welterweight in the country right now,” he stated. “I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging or being boisterous kid but I’m confident that I’m ready for anyone, including the ones that are being tipped for world titles.
“I don’t go out to be gun-shy, I get in the ring to land bombs and put kids to sleep fast so I’m not bothered who I fight. I’m ready for anyone.
“When I’m active and I’m getting the dates people will see what I can do to opponents and they’ll start taking more notice.
“I’ve seen what I’m capable of doing and I’ve only show bits of it against the level of opposition I’ve been in with, but when I get good profile fights I’ll be really switched on.”
Shah’s career has been a slow burner to say the least. The likable southpaw turned pro in April 2008 with a points win over Amir Nadi but has only had four more paid outings since.
In the beginning everything looked rosy and legendary trainer Brendan Ingle was tipping the Lancastrian to be a future world champion before a fall out with his management left Shah in the wilderness.
And now he’s hooked up with a new trainer in Accrington-based Jason Curtis and inked a managerial deal with Steve Wood, he seems set to get his career back on track.
“Some people say to me I should have done this and done that by now but they don’t realise the politics of boxing,” Shah explained. “Someone said to me ‘you can be the best fighter in the world but if you don’t have good management, you’ll never achieve anything’ and it’s true. Until I got with Steve I didn’t have a good manager.
“I’ve got everything in place now. I’ve got good people around me and I’ve got a good sponsor in Rehman Property Consultancy. Jason, for me, is the best trainer there is. People say he hasn’t got the experience but he’s got the biggest heart and he’s not looking to just make money out of fighters. We have a good bond and relationship.
“I just want to be active now. If things had have gone how they should have I’d be a champion today. I’m still young though at 24 and I know I’ll be British, Commonwealth, European and world champion in a few different weight divisions.”
If he gets his wishes his first title challenge could come against former stablemate turned bitter enemy Adnan Amar. The reigning English welterweight champion has been ordered to defend his crown against John O’Donnell but Shah hopes to get a shot in the not so distant future.
He said: “That’s the one fight I’d love. Adnan Amar has pulled out of so many fights I don’t how he’s still got that title. He needs to defend it. He needs to fight me for it and I’ll put him to sleep.”