By Lee Elford
A lot has occurred in the life of Frankie Gavin since the last time I spoke to him. When we last met back in August last year at the TKO gym, Canning Town, he had just enrolled under the tutelage of Father and Son duo Jimmy and Mark Tibbs as he sought a new start in the hope of eradicating old habits in the ring, after a disappointing performance against Curtis Woodhouse.
His time under previous coach Anthony Farnell had not ended on bad terms, he just sought a fresh impetus and new surroundings, away from the distractions of Manchester’s party scene, where he was enjoying a handsome social life whilst flat sharing with acquaintances. After a successful if lacklustre display against Young Mutley followed by a split-decision win against Woodhouse, it was apparent that Britain’s most successful amateur had gone as far as he could under Farnell.
By his own accounts, Gavin was training hard under the Tibbs’ tough regime, but there was something he had to deal with back home, as Frankie revealed when asked about his split with the Tibbs. "Boxing weren’t my number one priority to be fair," said Gavin when speaking to Boxingscene.com.
"My mum was ill and it just got to me in the end. Boxing needs you to be 100%, I was treating it half-heartedly and you can’t do that or you’ll get hurt. I wasn’t meant to be with the Tibbs’ for long it was only a trial really. Don’t get me wrong they are class trainers and great people to be fair, I just weren’t happy in myself there. I’m back permanently with my current and former amateur trainer now and we get on well, we’re like family really. That Woodhouse fight, sparring was good and the training was good, but the last few weeks leading up to the fight I just weren’t mentally prepared, I shouldn’t have been in the ring that night I don’t think."
If this wasn’t enough, the Birmingham technician also encountered a brief scare in January of this year upon the arrival of his first child, who was placed on a life support machine just hours after his birth. Thankfully, all his well and Frankie appears to thrive on parenthood.
He said: "He’s great to be fair. It makes you realise how lucky you are that he pulled through, he’s perfect now he was on a life support machine for a week. We had some worrying times for a couple of weeks but he’s here, he’s fine, he’s at home, and it’s good seeing him every day. This experience, as well as being a dad will definitely keep me on my game. If I’m in a fight and it’s going hard, it’s going to give me that little bit more motivation to dig that bit deeper."
The hype that the Birmingham man generated from his Amateur days you feel is partly to blame for the criticisms of his performances against Mutley and Woodhouse, two able and dangerous fighters for one taking them on at 9 -0 then 10 – 0 respectively. From another perspective, you could argue that Gavin never got out of second gear against Mutley (30 – 6), as he swerved and pawed his way to an easy victory before pulling out all the stops in his first ‘’gut check’’ against Woodhouse (15 – 2) which looks much more impressive when coupled with the serious personal problems he had to deal with.
Five months later it’s fair to say Frankie is back and ready to fulfil is much publicised potential. Currently living in Manchester with his newborn son and long term girlfriend Emma Heffron (sister of talented undefeated boxers Ronnie and Mark) the young family plan to move to Birmingham permanently after his next fight. As life is beginning to settle for Britain’s sole Amateur world champion (a feat even the great Floyd Mayweather Jr couldn’t accomplish) so his performance in his last fight played suit, as 11–0 Frankie stopped the former British champion Kevin McIntyre (30–8) in three classy rounds, remaining elusive, accurate and almost without taking a shot.
"Everything just went spot on in that fight really," confirmed Gavin. "Everything I done in the gym went right. I was living a good life I had good people around me back home and I was just happy in training. Any questions I got when I entered the ring I could answer them all. The weight was just coming off in camp because I was eating right. The fight was made at 10st 9 and I weighed in at 10st 7, I never would have done that before. I had a really good camp, I trained hard and sparring went well. Every day when I went back in the gym, I was being told I looked back to my best and that gave me confidence."
For a man who’s amateur scalps include that of undefeated Selcuk Aydin (23 – 0), who faces Robert Guerrero for the interim WBC welterweight title in July, it is exciting news to know that Frankie is now focused entirely on his boxing. Next up is a trip abroad in May, fighting on the undercard of a world championship bout that he is not yet allowed to announce, giving Gavin the chance to showcase his talents.
Gavin plans to remain at welterweight as this is his comfortable division, but he confirmed that should a big offer come in at light-welterweight somewhere down the line he would definitely take it. As for his British rivals, Frankie acknowledges that Kell Brook is by far and away the best fighter in the welterweight division, if not Britain, but he fully believes that in a year or two he will be up there with the likes of "Special K".