By Terence Dooley
Manchester’s Bob Shannon has a second chance to unlock the puzzle that is Frankie Gavin after news came through that his charge David Barnes, 32, will fight the undefeated Birmingham-based British and Commonwealth welterweight champion on a Frank Warren-promoted show at London’s Copper Box Arena on September 21st. Shannon took the then-undefeated Denton Vassell into a fight with Gavin in June only to see his man pick up a broken jaw and lose by seventh-round TKO. Shannon, though, is relishing the opportunity to come up against Gavin, 16-0 (12), again and believes the challenge will bring out the best of Barnes, 27-2-2 (11).
“I think David needs a big name fight to really get him going, and you don’t get bigger than Frankie,” said Shannon when speaking to BoxingScene. “Frankie is 27, unbeaten, was an amazing amateur and is already a brilliant pro. He’s beaten Denton so Dave’s looking forward to getting revenge for our gym and we’re confident he can win. I’m looking forward to it as well because I really rate Frankie. It’s an honour for my gym to have had two fighters meet him for the British title.
“Dave’s won the British title twice, at welterweight and light-welterweight, and won the welterweight title outright, but he will have to prove he is the best once again to beat Frankie. Don’t forget, he didn’t lose either title in the ring. Frankie will get the best out of Dave and me. David’s in great shape, he has it all to do, but has got a lot of experience. They’re actually very similar types of fighters, they’re both southpaws, both move well and are quick counter punchers.
“It’s a good fight. It doesn’t get bigger than this for a British fighter. Frankie’s a great lad and fighter. This is also a second chance for me as a trainer. It shows how strong the stable is at our gym. We have the strength in depth to get a second fighter in with Frankie and I know we’re entering a hungry lion’s den. It makes me proud and I want to win this with Dave.
“I wanted to win it with Denton, but it didn’t work on the night for Dents. We’ve got to put that behind us — Dave’s in front of Frankie now. I’ve seen him up close in the fight with Denton and it’s still vivid in my mind, which is good. It’s a totally different type of fight this time as well so there’s a lot to look forward to.”
As previously reported on BoxingScene, Shannon’s Openshaw-based gym was broken into a fortnight ago. The theft of some copper piping caused water damage and the gym was closed due for health and safety reasons. Manchester City Council has to decide if the repairs are cost effective. They have not contacted Shannon for over a week, which prompted the trainer to take to Twitter to launch a campaign.
This in turn led to an online petition. The petition now has over 500 signatures, the bulk of them are from boxing fans, but former world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis has also signed on, adding his considerable clout to Shannon’s campaign.
“It is such a honour to get Lennox’s support,” he said. “It’s been a long time since I saw him, but he’s a great inspiration to all trainers and fighters. It’s great and this a good cause. We’re taking lads off the streets and giving them discipline.
“Lennox is a legend. It makes a big difference to me and the lads that he thought enough about us to add his name, we appreciate that. Lennox is a proper boxing man and has a great heart. It’s all about the community, Lennox knows that and that the kids are the future. That’s what we’re fighting for.”
Shannon’s fight will hit our TV screens next week via BoxNation’s Steve Bunce and Sky Sports News. “Steve Bunce has said I can phone him on Monday,” said Shannon.
“That’s huge because there’s no one quite like Steve in British boxing. His support will be a huge lift for me and everyone involved. Then Sky are coming on Tuesday, so we’ll show them what the gym means to people. Please let people know what’s happening and that we’ve had great support from people like Sky and Steve. It makes a big difference to have TV support as well as articles going out. The council not been in touch, but I won’t give in. The building itself is a great old building — it just needs some love and attention.”
Shannon also paid tribute to his son Robert earlier this week. Robert Shannon Junior died in a car accident in 2003; he would have reached the age of 32 this week had he survived. Bob lit some candles before vowing to win this one for his family.
“We celebrated Robert this week,” he said. “We didn’t make it into a sad occasion — it was a chance to show thanks for all he gave us in his tragically short life. If I had a problem in the past, Robert would say to me: ‘Dad, we’ll sort this out’, and make things better. I believe that the people who have helped us on Twitter and over the past weeks were sent down to us by Robert as angels in our time of need. We can’t thank them all enough.
“Jean [Shannon’s wife] is hurt by the closure of the gym as well, she did so much for that place. Jean would take the subs from the fighters, help wrap hands and do lots of stuff that people didn’t get to see. She’s hurting right now so I’m fighting for my wife as well as she trained at the gym alongside the boxers and members of the local community. This is a family fight and my fans are like family to us, so I hope they know just how much they mean to us both.”
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