Victory will be better late than never for debut Nelson boxer Atif

A cacophony of jeers and discontent reverberated around De Vere Whites as Atif Mushtaq was denied a deserved victory on his professional debut.

The 25-year-old turned to his corner in disbelief once referee John Latham announced that journeyman Kristian Laight had earned a draw at the end of the four-round contest.

Mushtaq looked composed inside the ring and shrugged off any intimidation that the Reebok Stadium venue may have posed on his bow. The Nelson fighter was alert, nimble and his defence impenetrable as he expertly digested the tactics and instructions of mentor Stuart McFadyen. He practically picked off his seasoned opponent.

However, the result didn’t match the performance. “I felt I won most of the rounds and probably drew the last one at worse,” he said. “I was surprised at the result. Boxing News told me at the end of the fight that they had me winning every round. I don’t know how the decision went against me.

“The first round I just wanted to get a feel for my opponent and see if he had any power. It turned out he didn’t have any power at all so I switched to southpaw and caught him with every shot and I was hurting him as well. I dominated every other round after that so the decision was terrible.

“The whole eight-week camp worked perfectly. My fitness was good and my strength was there so everything was spot on except the result. I’m devastated. He didn’t do anything to warrant a draw and I can’t get my head around it. He caught me with three shots I reckon. He was hitting my gloves, hitting my arms and he didn’t hurt me once.”

But the outcome has made the light-welterweight even more determined, and he’s demanding a rematch in the near future. “I’m happy with my performance overall though I could’ve done a bit better with a bit more switching and body shots thrown in,” said Mushtaq. “Stuart (McFadyen) said it was the first time he’d seen a decision like this in his life. He told me to keep my head up and that we’ll go out and win the next fight convincingly.

“I sold more than 100 tickets and everybody that has come here was disappointed. My manager was shocked as well so I’m devastated. I’ll just have to pick up from where I left off, train even harder, put more in to it and stop this lad the next time I fight him.”