By Shaun Brown
On 28 Jun 2013, Frankie Gavin 19-0 (12 KOs) showed us that he is the best in Britain at 10st 7lbs. His seven round dissection of the then unbeaten Denton Vassell was one of the performances of the year at domestic level that saw him retain his British welterweight title and claim his outclassed opponent’s Commonwealth strap in the process. It was 21 minutes of near perfection. Everything came together in one night.
In the three fights since then we have seen a Frankie Gavin that has struggled for motivation even though he was levels above David Barnes, Bradley Pryce and Sacky Shikukutu when defeating them. Gavin needs a threat, the fear factor and Leonard Bundu presents both for the 28-year-old.
This Friday night, Wolverhampton’s Civic Hall plays host to Bundu defending his European welterweight title against Gavin in his sixth defence since winning the blue belt Nov 2011.
Extra time away from the family, training in an army base, three daily sessions instead of two, ‘untouchable’ in sparring… Gavin is ready to deliver in a fight that will springboard him on to greater things.
“I know what he’s about but there’s nothing about him that makes me think I can’t beat him. Nothing at all,” said Gavin when talking to BoxingScene.com about his 39-year-old opponent.
This visit to the UK for Bundu is his second in nearly eight months. Last December, Lee Purdy’s heart of a lion was clear for all to see when almost going the full 12-round distance with the champion before being stopped in the dying seconds of the contest.
Gavin watched with keen eyes that night and says a win over Purdy means little, as it probably should. And he explained why.
“Yeah he done good against Purdy, no doubt about it but Colin Lynes beat him easier a couple of years before.” (Lynes won a MD against Purdy in 2011.)
“The one that gave him the draw, it was never a draw. Lynes won nearly every round if we’re going to look at things like that. Bundu never had his own way against Purdy until after the eighth round. And he was still getting hit a lot and he was still in a bit of trouble in the fight. So if we’re looking at things that way; Lynes beat him easier, Vassell beat him as easy. Purdy was just coming off a big loss against [Devon] Alexander so his confidence would’ve been down. And the fight started as a fight, Bundu was getting beat and had to change it. He changed but Purdy couldn’t. We’ve seen Purdy 20-odd times now and he’s never changed. It took so long for Bundu to get round to it but if I boxed Purdy I’d expect to win every round clear.”
The Birmingham born Gavin doesn’t mince his words with his Brummy tones. It’s not arrogance, its honesty. As an amateur stand-out he won lightweight gold at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, lightweight gold at the 2007 World Amateur Championships and light welterweight gold at the 2008 European Championships. A golden amateur era for Gavin and one that showed us the talents of Stephen Smith, David Price, Joe Murray, James DeGale and Billy Joe Saunders. The latter two made their professional bow on the same show as Gavin on 28 Feb 2009.
“I thought it would happen for most of the squad to be honest,” when ‘Scene asked if he thought all three debutants that Feb night would go on to succeed as pros.
“David Price had a setback but he’s back on track. Stephen Smith has had a setback before but he’s back on track. The team was probably the best team I’d seen in all honesty. We were cleaning up at all multi-nations and then the Commonwealths we won gold in six divisions I think. The Worlds we won three medals. It’s a shame with Joe Murray at the moment and what’s happening, he just needs to keep his focus and hopefully something will come for him.”
Boxing appears to come naturally to Gavin. It began with fighting other kids in his front garden before a neighbour’s dad telling him to go to a boxing gym that night. That was a Monday, the Friday was his medical and eight sessions later he was having his first fight.
“I don’t know any other fighter that’s done it that quick,” he recalled.
The young “average fighter”, as he described himself back then, would lose that fight but then go on to win 15 on the trot.
“I felt gutted to be honest,” was how he described his feelings after his first fight and first defeat.
“I can remember going ‘I’m gonna quit, I’m gonna quit’. I just hate losing. Wasn’t till I was 16 that I started winning and not really losing. I was winning everything and haven’t lost since 2006 which was a dodgy decision in Bulgaria in the Europeans. And since then I haven’t lost and I don’t want to feel what it’s like to lose again to be honest. And I’m doing everything I can to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”
Shaun Brown is the UK Editor at Boxing Scene and a contributor to Boxing Monthly. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org with any news, views or stories you may have.