Talented featherweight Yusuf Safa goes for his third professional win next Saturday (November 8) at Glow, Bluewater and hopes to build on the explosive statement he made on his professional debut in May.
“It felt really good,” said Safa, who set tongues wagging with a second-round stoppage of Anwar Alfadli in Leeds. “You always have nerves going into a fight, and that fight was no different, but, as I approached the ring, the nerves started to go away. Then the bell rang and my nerves had completely gone.
“Even though my nerves had gone, I was still cautious. I was still focused. I didn’t want to rush in and do anything stupid.
“I would have liked to use some other skills as well, but the fight ended quickly. That didn’t allow me to warm into it as much as I would have liked. Still, it’s always nice to win by knockout.”
Now 20 years of age, Safa was originally born in Kabul, Afghanistan and moved to Acton, West London with his parents in 1999. He was five at the time.
“I don’t remember much of it because I was so young, but I know my parents had to go through a lot of struggle on my behalf,” he said. “They left during the Civil War and they had a tough life. There are different cultures and different situations in Afghanistan and it’s a rough place to live. Problems get handled in different ways out there. The environment is nothing like Europe.
“My parents moved to England for safety reasons really, and I’d rather be living here in England than in Afghanistan. Then again, if I didn’t have the chance to move to England, I wouldn’t know any better and would probably be happy in Afghanistan. Life would definitely be different.”
At the age of eleven, Safa and his parents moved to South-East London, and a year later he began boxing at Eltham ABC.
“Fighting runs through my father’s family, so he was always going to get me into some sort of martial art,” said the featherweight. “But martial arts ain’t all that – it’s not as popular as boxing.
“My father taught me a bit first and then I went to Eltham ABC. I had to train for over a year before I had my first amateur fight.
“At the beginning I would watch a lot of ‘Prince’ Naseem Hamed fights. Then, once I found my style, I watched a lot of Mexican fighters and Roberto Duran and Manny Pacquiao.
“As for my own style, I can fight and I can box and I can do both at the same time. Movement-wise, I’m a slick mover with lots of speed and a good defence. I can punch hard, too.”
It’s a style that has got a lot of people in the boxing trade very excited. Perhaps his biggest fan is his promoter, Mick Hennessy, who recently labelled him “special”.
“Expectations are high, so of course there’s going to be pressure,” said Safa, 2-0 (2 KOs). “But, when I feel there’s pressure on me, I always train harder. If people speak highly of you, you don’t want to let them down. You don’t want to look like a fool. That’s one thing I’m afraid of. And it’s what pushes me to train hard and get better each day.”