He may have had a less than perfect build up to the European Games but boxer Qais Ashfaq showed he is more than ready for the task ahead with a last 32 victory over Giorgi Gogatishvili.
Going into Wednesday’s bantamweight bout, Commonwealth Games silver medallist Ashfaq had not fought competitively since he represented the British Lionhearts against Ukraine in the World Series of Boxing in March.
During that match, the 22-year-old suffered three cuts to one eye, an injury which required him to take a break from sparring for nine weeks.
But there was little sign of rustiness at the Crystal Hall in Baku, as he outfought his Georgian opponent 3-0 to safely progress into the last 16 where he will face Turkey’s Selcuk Eker on Friday.
And while there were a few pre-bout nerves, Ashfaq insisted it was business as usual in the ring.
“It’s been a bit of a rush, I’ve been to a training camp in Germany just to get as sharp as possible. So it was nice to get a warm up bout,” he said.
“I’m getting sharper and getting my mind working faster. Against an awkward fighter like that, who just seems to punch and fight and bring his head in, it was a nice warm up for the next fight.
“We watched the video of him this morning, he just seems to punch, punch, punch and then fall inward. So I remembered that and tried to catch him. He was quite flat footed.
“When I’m with the lads I’m nice and relaxed but I was on my own today. I was a bit nervous before in the warm up but once I got in there all the nerves were gone.”
© Sportsbeat 2015