By Terence Dooley
Manchester’s Denton Vassell and Birmingham’s Frankie Gavin will come face-to-face at a press conference on Tuesday to formally announce their long-awaited Commonwealth and British welterweight title fight. As revealed by BoxingScene earlier this year, the two undefeated fighters will put their 0s on the line on a Frank Warren-promoted bill to see who will move on to European level and beyond.
Vassell, 20-0 (10), hammered the previously undefeated Ronnie Heffron to a sixth-round stoppage defeat in November. Gavin, 15-0 (11), scored a seventh-round TKO over Jason Welbourn in January. The two champions are now focusing on their big domestic clash.
“Denton can’t wait for this fight, it will be a great night for both lads and there will be a lot of respect in the build-up and a lot of action on fight night,” said Bob Shannon, the trainer of Vassell, when confirming the news to BoxingScene.
“Both Denton and Frankie have shown real fighting heart by taking each other on. Denton is very, very confident that he will win this and then kick on to mix it with the big boys. I can’t wait to see everyone on Tuesday. Denton and me wouldn’t slag Frankie off because he’s such a good fighter and a nice lad. We know what to expect from him inside and outside the ring.
“I’d also like to thank Frank [Warren] and [Vassell’s manager] Tommy Gilmour for getting this fight on. It takes a great promoter to put together fights like this. Frank knows what the public wants and delivers it to them time after time. This is a trade and boxing public fight from a man who has delivered for decades. It is going to be a great night of action.”
“Some people thought I would lose to Heffron because I’d been out for so long, and there was a lot of talk before the fight, but I’m called the ‘Quiet Storm’ because I do my talking in the ring,” said Vassell. “Now people will talk about this fight, so I’ll just keep doing what I do in training.”
Vassell had a quiet 2012, the win over Heffron was his only action of the year, and he has been eager to build on the success of that fight. The 28-year-old bank worker has been in the gym since the turn of the year. Shannon believes that the challenge presented by Gavin, 27, has lit a fire under his charge.
“This will bring the best out of Denton and me, we didn’t want to shy away from good fighters because we know that Denton’s as good as anyone — this is the time to prove it,” he said. “Come the night, it will catapult him to where he wants to be. It should be a close, hard fight and there can only be one winner, which will be Denton. Then it will be time for Denton to kick on. I know that Frankie will be able to come again because of his quality.
“These two lads haven’t shied away from each other. Unbeaten fighters always call each other out, but they hardly ever meet so this is a brave move from the fighters and brave promoting by Frank, he knows how to deliver fights like this.”
He added: “Give Frankie our best wishes and respect. This is a business and the route they’ve taken is to meet each other to get to that next level — I hope both sets of fans show the other fight lots of respect because without their desire to be the best in Britain fights like this wouldn’t happen. We rarely get all-British fights of this size, but when we do get them you end up with fights like Jamie [Moore] against Matt [Macklin], Jamie, again, against Ryan [Rhodes] and we’ve recently had David [Haye] fighting Dereck [Chisora] on a big bill. Fans love to see British guys meet on home soil to see who will go on to the world level.”
Shannon also has another important fight on his plate, David Barnes is set to meet Craig Watson, 22-5 (9), on June 1st and Watson lit the blue torch paper earlier this week by telling BoxingScene’s John Evans that Barnes is a “shitbag”. Naturally, both Barnes, 26-2 (11), and Shannon disagree with the 30-year-old’s assessment of Barnes, 32.
“David’s not happy about those comments, but we’re professionals at this gym and won’t have a war of words,” admitted Shannon. “Dave’s not ducked this fight at all, so how can Craig call him the names he did? Dave was happy to take this fight — he will win it, because he’s too good not to — and then he’ll drop down to light-welterweight. Dave was going to do go down a weight anyway, but then he heard he could take on Watson, so he took this fight. He will move down after because he is convinced he can beat Craig and can pick up a nice win.
“I was really surprised by Craig’s outburst, it is unprofessional behaviour even if he was trying to build the fight up. If that’s how Craig wants to play it then it is up to him, we won’t engage in that type of thing, Dave’s just working on doing a professional job on him on the night. We’re going to do our talking and fighting in the ring.
“We want to show that we’re not just good fighters, we’re professional in what we do and how we do it. I don’t know what’s gone on with Craig, but I’ve got a load of respect for him as a fighter and we won’t underestimate him by any means — he’s a danger man. David will go out there and prove why he won two British titles [at welterweight and light-welterweight respectively], and why he never lost either of his titles in the ring.”
Before signing off, Shannon revealed that he has been lending his expertise to Viva Magazine, ilovemanchester.com and local businessman Umar Kamani. They are all taking part in a charity bout tomorrow night and have become regular patrons of Shannon’s Fighting Fit gym.
“I’ve been working with Emma [Wilkinson] from Viva Magazine, Chris [Greenhalgh] from I Love Manchester’s Chris and Umar for their charity fights,” said Shannon. “They’d never had a pair of gloves on in their lives, so I stepped in because I didn’t want to see them get hurt, and it is all for a good cause so that’s important to me. They’re all going out there to do some good and to show people that boxing can be really positive, so let’s all lend them our support.”
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