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19 JULY 2018

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Yafai Defeats Muranaka/Eggington Crowned European Champ


Kal Yafai’s homecoming WBA Super Flyweight title defense ended in victory, defeating the extremely tough Suguru Muranaka via unanimous decision on Saturday night in Birmingham. It was a terrific, non-stop, fight where Yafai was forced to prove his championship credentials against an opponent that pushed him all the way, but in the end he proved he is exactly where he belongs. Kal started the fight at a ferocious pace, nailing his Japanese opponent to the body and head, and in round two he put Muranaka on the deck with a left hook/straight right combo. Muranaka was soon back up, replays showing he slipped slightly as well, and from there on out he displayed the utmost grit and toughness as he soaked up every assault that came his way. Yafai was registering most rounds in his name, battering his foe to the body constantly, but Muranaka never stopped pushing forward and he had success of his own.

It seemed in round seven that Yafai’s earlier bombardment was beginning to wear the challenger down, his legs looking heavier, but every time he was staggered back he answered with an attack of his own. Yafai definitely hurt his opponent in round eight with two left hands landing clean but he was then docked a point for low blows, probably the most disappointing aspect of his night. There will be those, including Yafai, disappointed he didn’t get the stoppage but words cannot do justice just how hard a man Suguru Muranaka is, I haven’t seen many men withstand the kind of beating he took and not only refuse to wilt but throw back and present problems for the champion.

Yafai could potentially use his jab more, feint and move his head more frequently but this was a tremendous workout for only his second outing at the top level. There are plenty of tests to come, the Super Flyweight division is stacked full of talent, and there will be those who question if Yafai is ready for those but just remember he is still learning. I wouldn’t advise a unification bout in the next eighteen months but there are a lot of names that should be in the pipeline; Rex Tso or an all British showdown with Jamie Conlan would be a quality starting point.


Sam Eggington became the European Welterweight champion with a destructive tenth round KO of Ceferino Rodriguez in front of his hometown fans. It was a very engaging fight, both men forced into the trenches, but Eggington’s size, power and relentless approach proved to be the difference in the end. I’d love Eggington to use his jab more and perhaps use more than just his face as a defense but his style works for him and it certainly gets the fans excited. Eggington started the fight well and was landing his right hand at will but Rodriguez grew into the fight, using his movement to make the Birmingham man miss and peppering him with stylish if not hurtful punches. Eggington had his best moments when he trapped the Spaniard on the ropes before going to work toward the head and body, his impressive stamina allowing him to remain on the front foot throughout. Rodriguez attempted to switch stances, anything to bamboozle his opponent, and even seemed to briefly stun Eggington in round seven with an uppercut but just seconds later he was out on his feet. The former champion seemed to gain confidence from his momentary success and chose to trade with Eggington, forgetting his gameplan, and was left staggering from a right and left hook to the jaw. Eggington poured it on with a barrage but Rodriguez showed his own toughness to reach the bell. Rounds eight and nine seemed to pass by with little action, both men feeling the pace of the fight, but then round ten brought about a contender for knockout of the year. Eggington pushed his older foe back to the ropes and unloaded with a right uppercut and left hook right to the jaw. Rodriguez was out, propped up by the ropes, but the referee didn’t move in quick enough to prevent a second uppercut and hook that sent the Spanish fighter through the ropes and onto the apron, the bout immediately stopped. At just 23, I think we are going to see many more edge of the seat nights from Eggington, he is one of the most value for money fighters on our shores right now, but I just worry that his gung-ho style is going to lead to his downfall somewhere along the line. In saying that the sport needs men like Sam, he will fight anyone and give them a real fight, so long may his success continue.


Gamal Yafai destroyed Sean Davis in seven rounds to win the WBC International Super Bantamweight title. Davis tasted the canvass six times in all, four from vicious body shots, in the most impressive display of Yafai’s career thus far. Both men entered the fight undefeated and started at a blistering pace, swapping right hands, but within three rounds Yafai’s superiority began to tell. Davis looked strong and quick but a right/left combo to the body put him down in the third stanza. He was able to rise and actually finished the round on the front foot but Yafai displayed his maturity, choosing to stalk his opponent instead of chasing a finish. Yafai seemed to grow in stature through four and five and he downed his opponent again with a sinking left hook to the ribs. Davis rose again but within moments he was down again, this time a left hook to the jaw. It was surely only a matter of time before the end came but I must mention the toughness of Davis, he demonstrated so much heart and courage to keep coming forward but he just did not have the power to deter his fellow Midlander. The end came in round seven when Davis was felled twice by body shots again before succumbing to another knockdown, the sixth in total, from a blow to the top of the head which prompted the referee to call a halt. Gamal Yafai has bags of talent and he seems to be developing at a very quick pace, I believe British and European level won’t be too far away for him.


Frankie Gavin got back to winning ways with an eight round decision over the tough and durable Renald Garrido. Despite the victory though it is hard to get excited about any upturn in Gavin’s future prospects. Gavin’s talent has never been in question, he is still the only ever British male to win a gold at the World Amateurs, but his desire and dedication is. Gavin once again had issues with weight, he has previously stated he was going back to 140lbs but he weighed 148lbs for this one, and you have to wonder if he can really push himself hard enough to be a big game player. In the first two rounds he was bullied and backed up by Garrido but after warming to the task he used his superior skills to pick his opponent off and record a comfortable victory. The former British & Commonwealth champion has been touted as a world championship level fighter his entire career but he has never lived up to that potential and at this stage of his career it is extremely difficult to imagine him breaking the habit.


Josh "Pretty Boy" Kelly maintained his unbeaten start to the professional ranks with a fourth round stoppage victory over Spain’s Jony Vina. This was Kelly’s second outing as a pro, he missed out on the Joshua-Klitschko bill two weeks ago, and he is certainly settling down to his work in a confident manner. His jab and body movement are quality, he moves as he punches which allows him to build power, and although Vina had only lost once before this, he was no match for Kelly. Kelly was always in control, working the head and body well, and then in the fourth he dropped Vina heavily with a big left/right hook combo. Vina showed bravery to get back up but was then hammered into submission, forcing the referee to intervene although even that took a little too long for my liking. Being hyper critical; Kelly switched off once or twice and was caught, which he cannot afford to do against better competition, although one would expect that Adam Booth will iron out that kind of aspect in the gym.


Ryan Kelly and Adam Harper clashed in a tremendous ten round super welterweight contest, Harper earning a decision to win the vacant Midland Area title in the process. Both men went toe to toe throughout but in the end it was the relentless pressure of Harper that earned him the victory. Given the closeness of the decision there is every chance we will see this one again, I don’t think there is one boxing fan who wouldn’t want to see it. Scorecard read: 97-95


Super lightweight prospect, Cori Gibbs sealed his eleventh professional victory with a four round decision over Ahmed Ibrahim. Both men came into the bout undefeated but Gibbs is the only who remains so after dominating proceedings. Scorecard read: 40-36


Charlie Williams and Josh Thorne contested a four round lightweight contest that finished a 38-38 draw. Williams remains unbeaten but no longer can boast a perfect record in what can be considered a shock result.


Aaron Lovell made his debut, contested at super lightweight, with a four round decision over journeyman, Liam Richards.


Northampton’s Kieron Conway moves to 3-0 with a four round points decision over the Czech Republic’s Jan Balog, the contest was fought at Middleweight.


Solihull’s Jordan Clayton recorded a narrow points victory over Nick Golubs, to open the show, in a highly entertaining four round scrap. Clayton moves to 6-0 but was pushed all the way by Golubs, the fight was scored 39-38 by the referee.

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