Masood Abdulah is fully aware that he isn’t going to walk a red carpet to title level. Fortunately, the heavy-handed featherweight is ready and willing to take the hard road to the top.
This weekend he gets another chance to push his claims. After stopping the tricky former British super bantamweight champion Marc Leach last October, Abdulah (9-0, 6 KO’s) takes on the slick Qais Ashfaq (12-2, 5 KO’s) on the undercard of the middleweight fight between Hamzah Sheeraz and Liam Williams.
“He’s a very good opponent. Super experienced, had a vast number of amateur fights and went on to world level. It should be a good fight for me,” the Londoner told BoxingScene.com.
Ashfaq has risen through the weight divisions in search of his own opportunities. He was dropped twice and outpointed by Leach at super bantamweight back in 2020 and lost a vacant British super featherweight title fight to Liam Dillon last July, again touching down twice and losing a decision.
At 30 years old, Ashfaq is in desperate need of a meaningful win himself and at this stage of his career, boxing at featherweight should give him the best chance of earning it. Abdulah respects Ashfaq and isn’t looking too deeply into his defeat to Dillon.
“I think he’s just taking any opportunity that he can,” he said. “As a fighting man, that’s what you want. I think he took the Liam Dillon fight because he thought he could beat him. On top of that, if he had won, he would have got a promotional deal. That’s the reason he’s taken the fight with me. He thinks he can beat me. If he does, then he’s got a deal with Frank Warren.
“He’s taking the right risks but as fighters, that’s what you should do.
“I actually haven’t seen the fight [with Dillon]. I’ve been looking for it everywhere and cannot find it. He did drop twice but one of the scorecards didn’t make sense. It was 115-113 to Qais Ashfaq which means aside from the knockdowns, he lost one round. If you’ve been knocked down twice, that means you’re down four points. He’s done well. He’s done really well.”
Masood crammed a lot into a short but successful amateur career, winning a National Championship and a Tri-Nations title within just 34 fights but at 30 years old, he doesn’t have the time or the profile to build his career slowly.
Leigh Wood may have vacated his WBA title and left the featherweight division behind, but Britain still has plenty of depth at 126lbs. Nick Ball fights Rey Vargas for the WBC title in Saudi Arabia on March 8th, Josh Warrington is waiting to find out whether he will get a rematch with Wood at 130lbs and Jazza Dickens is preparing himself for another assault on the division’s top names. After that, there are a whole host of ambitious young fighters vying for their shot. Unbeaten British and Commonwealth champion, Nathaniel Collins, is the man currently in possession of the silverware but although Abdulah sees himself as the next in line, he knows he needs to prove it.
“After Jazza, I’m next. I don’t exactly know the rankings but we’re all roughly around the same kind of level. I think I’m the one who’s got the least amount of experience, but I think it’s anyone’s game at that point,” he said.
“Nathaniel Collins turned us down. He was offered to fight us before Hopey Price [Price was recently ruled out of his mandatory challenge to Collins after suffering a hand injury]. Zak Miller turned us down [Miller has pressing business of his own to attend to. He has been mandated to fight for the English title against the unbeaten Lewis Frimpong. Purse bids are due to take place on February 12th]. Everybody has turned us down. I’m at an age where I can’t avoid people. I have to take on certain challenges and risks. Unfortunately, if there’s no dancing partner, I don’t have that. I’m super fortunate that Qais Ashfaq has taken this opportunity.”
All Abdulah can do is keep winning, keep stopping good fighters and take every opportunity that presents itself. There are so many good featherweights in Britain that it seems inevitable that that chance will come sooner rather than later but if for some reason it doesn’t, Abdullah would be willing to take a risk of his own and circumnavigate domestic level.
“I’ll have no choice but to do that. I’ll see what happens after this fight. If they want to fight, no problem we can make it happen. If not, I’ll have to find my own route. I don’t think I’m world level yet. I need a couple more fights before I reach that level and I need to get tested more.”