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Frank Warren on Frankie Gavin's Rise, Saunders, More

By Frank Warren

Frankie Gavin will be within touching distance of challenging for a world title if he defeats European Welterweight Champion Leonard Bundu tonight in Wolverhampton, live and exclusive on BoxNation (Sky Ch. 437/HD 490 and Virgin Ch. 547).

The Birmingham star has a tough and experienced champion in front of him in Bundu, who’s undefeated with five successful defences in the last three years, and in his last fight he stopped Britain’s Lee Purdy in the final round.

Gavin, 28, is in prime position right now, the British and Commonwealth Champion is ranked in the top of five of three of the major governing bodies, the WBO, WBA and IBF, and later this year he’ll get his shot at one of the world titles.

Just last week we saw middleweight Billy Joe Saunders, also a British and Commonwealth Champion, capture the European title with a stunning eighth round stoppage of another unbeaten Italian in Emanuele Blandamura, which will have given Gavin a big boost.

Gavin formed part of the 2008 Olympic Team GB squad that included Saunders, James DeGale, David Price and Tony Jeffries, but after experiencing weight-making difficulties in the training camp, he did not make it into the final team and came home.

The slick, counter-punching, southpaw was recognised as the most naturally talented of all the team, blessed with skills that simply cannot be taught, and he still holds the accolade of Britain’s only ever world amateur champion, winning gold in Chicago in 2007.

He signed with me in 2009, along with Saunders and DeGale, and stormed to nine unbeaten fights, stopping eight of them in style as he adjusted his style to the pros.

But just as he was about to move to the next level in 2011 he was hit with a series of personal problems. 

His mother, who raised him as a single parent was diagnosed with cancer, his grandmother, who he was extremely close to, passed away, plus more troubling personal issues.

At the time Gavin was under trainer Anthony Farnell in Manchester and also struggled to maintain the discipline of a young professional boxer once he finished for the day.

His form slipped and consecutive WBO Intercontinental victories over Young Mutley and Curtis Woodhouse highlighted his stamina issues.

A switch of trainers saw him move to London under the father-son training team of Jimmy and Mark Tibbs, but on the night before of his title defence in October 2011, he withdrew stating he was not mentally right to fight.

Leaving the Tibbs’, he teamed up with his old amateur coach at Hall Green ABC in Birmingham, Tom Chaney, and since then he has recaptured his form and improved with each fight.

He stopped former British champion Kevin McIntyre in three and retired tough Laszlo Komjathi in the fifth, then outboxed wily veteran Junior Witter to capture the British title.  Consecutive defences against Jason Welborn, Denton Vassell - adding the Commonwealth belt - and David Barnes saw him win the Lonsdale Belt outright in just nine months.

Although he defeated Bradley Pryce over ten rounds, he had to overcome a difficult final week in which he saw two opponent changes from Joseph Lamptey to Juliano Ramos.

Although being floored against Sacky Shikukutu last time out, he stuck to his boxing and well outpointed the tough Namibian on the scorecards.

Although Bundu is 39, he’s in fantastic shape without an ounce of fat on him.  He was a top amateur himself, winning Bronze in 1999 at the World Amateur Championships, but after being a pro for almost ten years the only thing missing on his ledger is a world title.

Gavin is the younger, fresher and hungrier man and I believe that he has the tools and temperament to overcome the Italian and be crowned champion of Europe in an exciting battle.

***

A fantastic show last week at Manchester’s Phones 4 U Arena, despite Tyson Fury’s last minute withdrawal, saw some tremendous, action-packed, fights with three new champions crowned.

In the main event, Billy Joe Saunders turned on the punching power after ten months out of the ring to halt the unbeaten Italian Emanuele Blandamura and claim the Vacant European Middleweight title. 

The Hatfield southpaw was made to work early on, but turned it up in the eighth round when he landed a beautiful right hook that had Blandamura out on his feet and with Saunders looking to go in for the finish, referee Robin Dopierre stepped in. 

I’m delighted for Saunders to see him add the European title to his British and Commonwealth belts and further enhance his world status.  Ranked at number three in the WBO, I’d fancy Saunders strongly to beat reigning WBO Champion Peter Quillin and that is a fight I’m looking to make.

Liam Smith really impressed with a sickening body shot to knockout Jason Welborn and retain his British Light-Middleweight title.

Welborn, who previously lost in a British title challenge at welterweight to Frankie Gavin, took the fight to Smith, but it was the better, accurate, combination punching from Smith that really caught the eye.

That was the second stoppage in a row for Smith and one more title defence will see him win the belt outright.

Unbeaten Manchester lightweight talent Terry Flanagan finally claimed the British title after grinding down tough challenger Martin Gethin in the seventh round.

Flanagan threw the classier more powerful punches and almost closed Gethin’s right eye, but it was when Gethin’s ear ballooned that his corner pulled him out.

A superb battle between Ronnie Heffron and Liam Williams in an Eliminator for the British Lightweight title was one of the highlights of the night.

Both men are come forward, attacking, fighters and it was always going to be a war of attrition with the more powerful man coming through and that proved to be Williams.

Heffron’s corner pulled him out in the break after the sixth round, with Williams now next in line to fight for Liam Smith’s title.

Jack Catterall, from Chorley, was one of the stars of the night with his stunning left-right that had Liverpool’s Nathan Brough flat out in the second round.

He won his first title, the Central Area Light-Welterweight title, two fights quicker than Manchester great Ricky Hatton and he’s definitely one to keep an eye for the future.

Chris Eubank Jnr. was back to his power-punching best, easily blowing away Croatian Ivan Jukic inside the first round.

The rivalry between him and Saunders is intensifying and it won’t be long until these two get it on in a big domestic showdown.

***

All action Brandon Rios returns to BoxNation screens this Saturday night when he takes on Diego Chaves in a ten-round welterweight battle live from Las Vegas.

In the main event Jessie Vargas defends his WBA World Light-Welterweight title against Russian Anton Novikov.  Both bouts are set to be dynamite so don’t miss it! Join at www.boxnation.com

***

WBA Super World Middleweight Champion Gennady Golovkin looks like he’s on the verge of becoming the next superstar in world boxing after destroying Daniel Geale in three rounds last Saturday night.

The Kazakhstani, certainly one of the biggest punchers in the world with 27 knockouts in 30 fights, has been linked with super-fights against Miguel Cotto, Julio Cesar Chavez Jnr., Saul Alvarez and Sam Soliman.

***

Belts owned by two former world champions from the Midlands are up for auction.

Birmingham born Jem Carney’s American Holske International Challenge title that he got when he fought Jack McAuliffe in 1887, is expected to fetch around £10,000.

While Leamington Spa’s Randolph Turpin’s 1951 Boxing News belt has a reserve on it for. £3000.  Turpin was awarded the belt after he was voted the boxer to make the biggest contribution that year to the sport.

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