Explosive super-featherweight prospect Yusuf ‘Yut’ Safa returns to the ring on March 26 at The SSE Arena, Wembley eager to make his way towards title opportunities and represent Afghanistan and Britain on the biggest stage.
The 22-year-old from Bexleyheath was born in Kabul, Afghanistan before moving to England with his parents at five years of age, and now flies the flag for both.
“I’m proud to be from Afghanistan but I’m also proud to call myself English and to live here,” he said. “I do it for both countries. I’ve got Afghan blood, but I’ve been raised more in England than I was in Afghanistan, so England also means an awful lot to me.
“When I came to England at five, I didn’t really know what was going on. I was only young. That helped in terms of adjusting to the culture. I just went straight to primary school and got on with it.
“Our culture is a bit different. Parents are more strict with their kids and my parents were no different. They were strict with me. I always had to behave and do as I was told. That was just the way of life for me. I followed their rules and got on with it.”
A fan of ‘Prince’ Naseem Hamed and Manny Pacquiao, Safa found Eltham Amateur Boxing Club at eleven years of age and quickly impressed coaches with his fast hands, fast feet and one-punch power. Then, after a brief but successful amateur career (24-3 record), he turned professional in May 2014 and has since won five fights on the spin.
“I’m very excited to box again on March 26 because it’s a big show with big-name boxers on it,” he said. “The bigger the show, the more enthusiastic I feel and the more energised I feel. I just can’t wait to get out there and show what I can do.
“I want at least five or six fights this year. I want to stay busy. By the end of this year, maybe even around autumn time, I want to be fighting for titles – Area, English, Commonwealth, any of them. I’m more than confident of winning those belts this year.”
Last time out Safa drilled Jiri Jaros to defeat in four rounds – punishing the man from the Czech Republic with body shots throughout – but, in doing so, suffered the first knockdown of his career in round two.
“He was a tricky guy,” conceded Yusuf, 5-0 (3 KOs). “He was much taller than me. I had to work to get inside. Once I got inside, though, after the second or third round, I got comfortable and knew what I was doing.
“He knocked me down in round two but it wasn’t due to a punch. It was due to a head-butt. He caught me on the way in and I went down. The referee didn’t see it, though, so he ruled it a punch.
“That aside, it was an easy fight for me once I found my range and warmed up.”
*** Tickets for the British middleweight title blockbuster between Nick ‘Bang Bang’ Blackwell and Chris Eubank Jr. are priced at £35, £50, £75, £175, £200 and £250 for ringside and can be purchased online at ssearena.co.uk and axs.com or by phoning the SSE Arena, Wembley Box Office on 0844 815 0815 ***