The Yorkshire derby is a well-poised affair, and after sending 2017 opposing tough foes, Appleyard begins this year with the same manner as he looks to make an impact on the domestic lightweight rankings. Manager Dave Coldwell is confident that his charge can look impressive at the Sheffield Arena next month.
“It’s a good fight for Lee, and hopefully it’s one that gets him nearer towards a British title shot,” said Coldwell from his thriving gym in Rotherham.
“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, 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.”
On his opponent on March 3rd, Coldwell added, “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.”