Gamal Yafai: I Know I Can Be a Serious Fighter
By Shaun Brown
On Sat night at Wembley Stadium in London all eyes will be on Carl Froch and George Groves who aim to settle their ‘Unfinished Business’ in front of 80,000 people and the millions watching across the world. With a glittering undercard featuring James DeGale, Kevin Mitchell, Jamie McDonnell and Anthony Joshua there is also another participant who will be aiming to make sure people are mentioning him in the coming days and weeks.
After a successful professional debut last Weds night in Leeds, Gamal Yafai will once again be looking to have people raving about him after the super bantamweight beat up Ricky Leach in one round with a mix of vicious intentions and thudding power. Yafai, nicknamed ‘The Beast’, has now been given a spot by his promoter Eddie Hearn as a live float (against an opponent TBA) on the Froch-Groves showpiece and can’t wait to be a part of the experience.
“I want to deliver on this one,” Yafai told BoxingScene. “Eddie’s delivered by putting me on. We had a meeting before my debut and he told me ‘I want you to perform tonight’ and he said that he wanted to get me out on Froch-Groves and be a live float if I did. I was over the moon and happy and can’t thank him enough.”
Hearn has been like a child in his favourite sweet shop since Yafai made his maiden bow and talked about him getting him on ‘every show’ such was his enthusiasm for the 22 year olds performance and the impact he’s made in such a short time. This vote of confidence has rubbed off on the younger brother of Kal, the unbeaten Commonwealth Super Flyweight champion, also promoted by Hearn.
“It’s good to know that he does have that confidence in me and it makes me want to perform even better,” said Gamal. “If your promoter doesn’t believe in me then you’re on a downer but because he thinks so highly of me I want to keep on proving him right and I want him to talk about me and I want everyone to talk about me. That’s why I train hard and live the life. As an amateur I was known for a lack of training and not training as hard as I am now but I’d be the first to admit that.”
‘Scene asked the former member of the elite Team GB squad and 2010 European Amateur bantamweight bronze medallist what has changed since those days.
“I knew I had to change because you can get away with it as an amateur to be honest. As an amateur I wasn’t the best trainer but at times I could win and beat the top guys at my weight without training that hard. I’ve changed, I live the life and I don’t go out to clubs and have late nights. I have early nights, go out running at 6-7am and train hard. Hopefully it will pay off and I can feel it paying off even now. I’m much fitter, much faster and stronger and I won’t stop till I get that world title and more.”
Despite the reputation of being a power puncher, Yafai is looking to hold himself back a bit more in future fights and let his hurtful shots come more naturally. Adrenaline played a big part in his fast start against Leach but the Birmingham fighter is looking to show fans that he’s not just a slugger.
“I want to perform,” he admitted. “I know I have to but I won’t rush it as much. I don’t have to look for the power because it’s there anyway. But I’ll be a bit more patient. Obviously I’ve got a reputation as a puncher and knocking people out so you have to live up to it. People don’t realise I can box, I was a good amateur and can box when I have to. I will start to do that. I’ll let the power come naturally than looking for it and hopefully the knockouts will keep coming. The more my technique comes on, the more power I’m gonna have in my shots. The more experience I get the better and harder I will punch.”
At just 22, Yafai said that he isn’t wanting to be rushed in the professional ranks and is looking more at learning his trade and gaining the valuable experiences that he will need before making moves up in class. Without sounding arrogant, he did predict that if he could do 12 rounds now he could beat quite a few of the top guys. And in his final words, in his first ever interview with BoxingScene; he spoke with a belief as intense as his debut showing.
“I know I can be a serious, serious fighter. If I’m put in the right direction, not get rushed and get that experience then I will be a great fighter.”
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