Having emphatically seen off all domestic competition this year – nailing a Lonsdale Belt outright in the process – British and Commonwealth welterweight boss Frankie Gavin can now set his antennae on scaling further up the world ratings.
The 147lb division might have the deepest talent pool in world boxing but the 28 year old Brummie southpaw patently has the tools and talent to flourish within it.
This Saturday evening, England’s sole world amateur champion breaks fresh ground as a pro by squaring up to African competition, accommodating Ghana’s useful Joseph Lamptey in a second defence of his Commonwealth crown at the First Direct Arena in Leeds.
Remaining tickets are available from the First Direct Arena on 0844 248 1585 or www.firstdirectarena.com
Last night, boxing writer Glynn Evans caught up with the increasingly focussed and fired up midlander to discuss the weekend’s fight and his plans for world domination.
Your last fight, a clear points win over Manchester’s David Barnes at The Copper Box, must have left you with conflicting emotions. It wasn’t a fight or a performance to leave the spectators or the media drooling but victory brought you permanent custody of the Lonsdale Belt. How do you reflect on that night?
Watching the tape back it was a bit boring. To be fair to myself, I was pressing, trying to force the fight. It was me who was performing like the challenger, not Barnes. I started quite well but then allowed myself to drop down to his level and I weren’t happy with that.
‘Barnsey’ didn’t really come to win so really I should’ve got him out of there, set a higher pace, forcing him to throw then catching him big with my counters. Still, first and foremost, I’m a winner. I’d always, always prefer to win bad than lose trying to look good.
A lot said I’d not even get to British level after I had a couple of bad performances back-to-back against Young Mutley and Curtis Woodhouse so getting the Belt for keeps was a big plus. That’s another goal achieved, retaining the Commonwealth belt again was another. My ultimate goal is to remain undefeated.
2013 has been a busy year for you. Saturday’s fight representing your fourth championship fight of the year, enabling you to keep the tools sharp and stay out of mischief!
The mischief days are gone, mate, seriously. I’m a family man now with two kids. I’ve grown up and settled down. Even between fights, I try not to have too long out of the gym otherwise you pile on the pounds.
Even without a fight date, I love training and learning with Tom. He’s a real anorak, a real student of the game, always watching tapes from Britain and overseas then getting me to study stuff, new moves or techniques. No pair in Britain has a better, more trusting relationship than we do.
Lonsdale Belt secured, are you likely to vacate your British title? Who at domestic level could stoke your juices?
I’ll not be vacating simply to give others a chance. I’ll only give it up if something better is offered to me. In the meantime, I’m quite happy to defend against the likes of Glen Foot, Bradley Skeete and, particularly, Lee Purdy, to keep myself busy. I’ve proven beyond question that I’m number one in Britain and I’m quite happy to put a loss on their records.
I’m so competitive, hate losing so much, that I can get up for every fight. Anyway, I have to train very hard just to make the weight. In 12 round championship fights, you can’t risk taking short cuts in prep, otherwise you’ll risk getting found out in the later rounds at title level. I hate losing far too much to allow that to happen.
Provided you come through safely against Joseph Lamptey on Saturday night, the next logical step would be a European title challenge to Italian veteran Leonardo Bundu. What was your take on his 12th round stoppage of Matchroom rival Lee Purdy at the ExCel Arena last Saturday?
There’s no doubt Bundu’s a very good fighter. His fitness is phenomenal for a 39 year old. He negotiated a rough patch then started to do what he should’ve done from the start, outboxing Purdy from the outside.
But you’ve got to say that Purdy made it far too easy for him. He just marched forward in straight lines, trying to throw hard shots. He walked on to everything, was continually caught by the same punches, same combos, round after round. It’s no good shaking you’re head, beckoning the other fella in, pretending you’re not hurt, eating punches. If I was Purdy’s coach, I’d have been very disappointed with him.
Bundu’s not a massive puncher. He only got the stoppage because Purdy was shattered. If I fought Bundu, he’d have to come onto me because I’m a bit taller and I’d not be daft enough to trade with him, unless it was on my terms. He’s off balance a lot so there’s a good chance you could him over. I’d be very confident.
In what ways have you developed as a fighter over the last 12 months and in which areas do you expect to further develop in 2014?
Physically, I’ve improved massively. My strength has developed phenomenally. I do the 300 Circuit, six exercises, 50 reps of each. I always set myself time limits. At the start of the year it was taking me 25 minutes to complete the circuit. Now I can do it in 14. Also, I’ve taken at least a minute off each mile when I’m running. I used to just plod to lose weight. Now I’m running for a purpose, to increase my cardio. I run further and I run faster.
In 2014, I want to continue improving all my times, reps and lifts in training. As I’m getting older, I’m getting more mature both physically and mentally and I’m now near my peak. Next year, I also want to get in better quality sparring.
On Saturday you make a second defence of your Commonwealth title against Ghana’s Joseph Lamptey. No African features on your 17 fight pro slate. Did you encounter many as an amateur? Stylistically, how do they differ?
I stopped a Nigerian when I won the Commonwealth Games gold medal in Melbourne and I also beat another African in the Commonwealth (Federation) championships. The African lads tend to be naturally strong and they’ve generally had a tougher upbringing which makes them very hungry. They can also be very cocky and confident. I once fought a South African who just talked the whole way through the fight!
But technically they’re a long way behind us. They don’t train like we do. Our coaches and facilities are far, far superior.
Challenger Lamptey has a modest record but has won five on the spin with four of those wins by stoppage. He’s also coming down from light-middleweight, having challenged for the Commonwealth belt in that division. What have you been able to find out about him?
I’ve caught a few clips of him on You Tube. He doesn’t seem as tall as me but he seems typically tough and strong. TV can be deceiving but he looks nowhere near as quick as me. Like a lot of Africans, though he’s orthodox stance, he’s pretty unorthodox and awkward.
He seems to like to take breathers so, every time he misses, it’s important that I put it on him, make him pay. In training, we’ve focussed far more on what I can do than what he can. My fights are always more down to me doing my thing, than stressing about the other fella.
With the Lonsdale Belt secured, might it be difficult to get up for this mentally? Lamptey’s decent but doesn’t have a great record and whether you stop him very early or completely school him for 12 rounds, it’s unlikely you’ll get huge props when you win. Might you underestimate him?
No chance. If I get this wrong, my career goes pair shaped. If I lose to Lamptey, no way am I going to win a world title. It’d take a huge rebuild and time’s not on my side.
Once the first bell goes, he’ll be coming at me, trying to stop me feeding my kids in future. I’m not going to let that happen. I’ll put everything on the line until there’s absolutely nothing more to give, to make sure I win every fight.
You enter as a huge favourite. What would represent a successful night’s work for Frankie Gavin on Saturday night?
Last time I stunk the joint out against Barnes so this time it’s crucial that I set the First Direct Arena on fire, regardless of how good or poor the opponent proves to be. I’ll be looking to start off fast, put Lamptey in his place early, then get him out of there. You don’t get paid overtime so the sooner I stop him the better.
You’re presently ranked fifth to WBA champion Marcos Maidana, third in line for WBO king Tim Bradley and ninth to IBF boss Shawn Porter. It’s probably a blessing that the WBC don’t rate you, given their champion is Floyd Mayweather! Provided you win on Saturday, what would constitute an ideal 2014 for Frankie Gavin? Which of the world champions are you most keen to target?
By the end of next year, I’d like to have the European title and be on the cusp of a world title, if not world champion already. Ideally, I’d like to face a few jaded American names to get my profile out there.
If the money was the same for each of the champions, I’d most like to face Maidana. That may sound mad as clearly he’s the hardest puncher. But Devon Alexander handled him pretty easily and he’s nowhere near as awkward as me. My footwork is second to none and I’d not let Maidana get close.
On my game, there’s no reason why I couldn’t beat any of ‘em......once Floyd retires!
Stuart Hall v Malinga, for the Vacant IBF World Bantamweight title, is live and exclusive on BoxNation (Sky Ch. 437/Virgin Ch. 547) also featuring as chief support is Commonwealth Welterweight Champion Frankie Gavin defending his title against Joseph Lamptey, plus an action packed undercard. Join now at www.boxnation.com