By Frank Warren
Frankie Gavin exorcised his demons on Thursday night when he became British Welterweight Champion by defeating Junior Witter and can now start realising his true potential.
The Birmingham ace was part of a highly-talented 2008 Team GB Beijing Olympic squad that included Billy Joe Saunders, James DeGale, David Price and Tony Jeffries, but he encountered weight-making problems in the final training camp and failed to make the team.
Southpaw Gavin, still Britain’s only ever world amateur champion, was recognised as the most naturally talented of all the team and high-hopes were expected of him to win gold. In the end DeGale came back the champion with Price and Jeffries both capturing bronze.
He signed with me in 2009 along with DeGale and Saunders and raced to nine unbeaten fights, looking dazzling in the process, and then hit personal problems in his life 2011. His mother was diagnosed with cancer, his grandmother then passed away and then had some further serious personal problems. That would be enough to derail most people in everyday life let alone a professional fighter.
Subsequently, Gavin’s form dipped last year in title fights against Young Mutley and Curtis Woodhouse - fights that were meant to showcase the talents of the young star - and he pulled out of a fight the night before.
He went back to Tom Chaney, his old amateur coach at Hall Green ABC in Birmingham, who’s had a great influence on Gavin and since then he’s been recapturing his form with each fight this year, stopping former British champion Kevin McIntyre in three and retiring tough Laszlo Komjathi in the fifth.
Thursday was a big night and a big test for Gavin when he faced the wily veteran Witter, a former WBC World Light-Welterweight Champion, and one that he had win to keep his career on track.
It was always going to be a difficult fight for Gavin to look good in as Witter can give any opponent nightmares even at 38 with his ultra negative sometimes boring style. The Bradford switch-hitter caused an upset when he beat Colin Lynes to take the title earlier this year.
After a cautious start, and a cut on his nose from a clash of heads, Gavin came through landing the cleaner and more impressive punches to win 119-109, 117-112 and 117-110 on the judges’ scorecards.
Gavin, 27, is now the fourth fighter from that team to win a pro title with varying success from his contemporaries.
Heavyweight hope Price has looked very impressive with big-hitting performances and could become a big threat on the world stage. The British and Commonwealth champ was devastating in stopping Audley Harrison last month in just 82 seconds and now defends his titles against Matt Skelton next month at Aintree.
DeGale has won the British and European super-middleweight titles and is the only one of the Oympians to have a loss on his record. He didn’t look impressive in his European title defence last month against Hadillah Mohoumadi, when he was hit far too easily despite winning on points.
Next month unbeaten middleweight Saunders could join Gavin as British champion when he fights Nick Blackwell on my big ExCeL London card on December 15. Saunders, who was the youngest of the team at just 18, had some hand injuries in the pros that limited his fights in 2010, but since having surgery he’s looked great winning the Commonwealth title and making two defences.
Light-heavyweight Jeffries, who I made an offer to sign with me along with Gavin, DeGale and Saunders, was forced to retire in September from hand injuries. A career saving operation wasn’t successful and he was forced to thrown in the towel with a record of nine wins and a draw.
Another member of the team, Bradley Saunders, stayed on as amateur after Beijing but after failing to make London 2012 he made the switch to the pros this year, signing with me. He’s unbeaten in four fights, stopping three early and he looks like an emerging force.
With the Lonsdale belt and his career back on track, Gavin can now look forward to a bright 2013 and try to become Britain’s next big thing on the world stage.
Cruiserweight Michael Costantino brings real meaning to the phrase “he won the fight with one hand”.
The American won his professional debut last Saturday night in Brooklyn by knocking out Nathan Ortiz in the second round, despite the fact that he really does only have one hand.
Costantino, 33, was born without a right hand - he had a battle to get licensed by the New York sports authorities for the fight - and although he wears a glove over his stump he cannot punch with it and uses it for defence only.
That didn’t stop him landing a blistering left hand on Ortiz that made the referee step in and stop the fight.
He said, "I just wanted to show people that in life, if you ever feel like you're not good enough or you feel down that anything is possible,"
Ortiz credited his one armed opponent’s victory, but said that he only had two weeks to train and added "Give me two months to train and I’ll knock him out in the first round,”.
Boxing has broken new ground in Afghanistan with the first professional fight being held in the capital Kabul.
German-born Afghan Hamid Rahimi beat Tanzania’s Said Mbelewa for the WBO Intercontinental Middleweight title this week.
The fight would have been banned under Taliban rule, but it took place under tight security with the public being check through an X-ray machine and with heavily armed security guards inside the hall.
The promoters titled the bout “Fight 4 Peace” and said it was to make statement of freedom to take part in sport in a country stricken by war.
A crowd of more than a 1000 people of all ethnic groups attended, including politicians and diplomats, plus reportedly millions watching the historic event on TV.
Sadly Danny Williams has allegedly taken to the unlicensed circuit.
The former British and Commonwealth Heavyweight Champion, has been refused a license by the British Boxing Board of Control and has been fighting abroad under a Latvian license.
He’s been stopped three times in his last five fights and after his fourth round stoppage to Christian Hammer last month he refused a drugs test saying that he wasn’t going to fight again.
Williams is now looking at facing previous victim in the pros Mark Potter who he famously knocked out with a dislocated shoulder.
His health is a major concern if he fights on and he doesn’t seem to accept that his boxing career is over.
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