Brilliant British welterweight champion Frankie Gavin endeavours to complete his domestic apprenticeship on Saturday evening then vault to the world stage where he believes his prodigious talent is best suited.
The 27-year-old Brummie southpaw, still England’s only ever world amateur champion, can secure the Lonsdale Belt outright if he dispatches Manchester’s former two-weight national champion David Barnes in the third defence of his crown at the Copper Box Arena on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
Unbeaten in 16 with 12 stoppages and currently in the best form of his life, the champ was bristling with confidence when boxing writer Glynn Evans cornered him on Monday evening.
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Do you consider your seventh round demolition of Denton Vassell, to capture the Commonwealth title in June, the best performance of your professional career to date?
Not really. It was a pretty straight forward job, to be honest. In camp, we all predicted that I’d beat Denton as comfortably as I did because his style was tailor made for my counter punching. I was particularly pleased with my accuracy, mind. Almost every shot I threw landed.
Beforehand, a lot was made of how big and powerful Denton was, and whether I’d be able to cope with that. But, skills aside, I was just as strong and powerful. I’ve long outgrown light-welter. Trust me, I have to work hard to make welterweight now. I’ll certainly be bigger than David Barnes in the ring on Saturday night and I’m predicting another good performance.
After periods of inactivity, you’ve got only a 12 week turn around between the Vassell and Barnes fights. How will that aid you?
Obviously, it helps me to stay sharp. Frank (Warren) keeps me busy and I’m confident that I’ll keep delivering top performances.
I’ve had loads of quality sparring in between the fights. Again, I’ve used Tommy Langford, who’s unbeaten in five as a pro at middleweight plus (one time British Masters middleweight champion) Terry Carruthers; two big, strong lads. I’ve also been working with a top amateur lightweight, a switcher who’s won 60 of 63 bouts. He’s keeping me very sharp.
You’ve been a revelation since returning to Brum and re-uniting with Tom Chaney your ex amateur coach at Hall Green ABC. Why do you work so well together?
It’s partly that I’m back home and close to my kids which helps keep my head right.
Tom knows me better than anybody. He knows what my strengths and weaknesses are – we work a lot on both – but he also knows what makes me click as a person. Sometimes I need to be told ‘What’s what’ for my own good, and Tom’s never been afraid to do that. He knows how to talk to me and always gives reasons and clear explanations as to why he wants me to try something, why it’ll benefit me.
Contrary to what some have written, I’ve always really loved training. That’s never been an issue. I’ve always been super fit. But previously I tended to focus on the boxing related stuff; the bags, pads and sparring.
Tom’s got me on the circuits which has given me a lot more physical strength, something I’ll need as I advance above British level and into world class. Right now, I’m the strongest I’ve ever been and I know I’ve got the power to hurt every opponent. I just don’t need to go looking for it.
Britain’s boxing squad for the 2008 Beijing Olympics was one of it’s strongest ever. James DeGale, Tony Jeffries and David Price all returned with medals. The squad also included talents such as Joe Murray, Bradley Saunders, Billy Joe Saunders and yourself. How much rivalry exists between you to establish who is top dog in the pros?
Not much, from my part. I wish all of them the very best. We were a tight group, very good friends. I really hope that David Price can get his career right back on track after his recent setbacks because he was like an older brother to us all.
Billy Joe and myself will both be looking to grab the headlines on Saturday night but we probably get on better now as pros, having fought on so many shows together. I know he genuinely wants me to win, just as I want him to. We’re all different weights. There’s no rivalry.
Presently most would have you third in line in the list of domestic welterweights, behind Kell Brook and Amir Khan. How far do you think you are from a clash with either of those? Given the choice, which would you prefer to face first?
It’s really up to them when we meet. I’d certainly be ready for either for my December date. Brook hasn’t beaten anybody better than I have. Matt Hatton and Michael Jennings are no better than Junior Witter and Denton Vassell. You’d certainly fancy Denton to beat everybody Brook has beaten.
Besides, I think Kell ‘kills’ himself to make 10.7. I’m super fit and I’d make him work for everything he gets. I also take a shot well so I don’t think his power would worry me unduly.
Out of preference, I’d prefer to fight Khan first because there’d be a lot more money involved. History shows that it only takes one shot to change a fight with Amir. He was beating (Danny) Garcia comfortably until he got ‘done’ by one shot and was dominating Julio Diaz until he got dropped. Diaz is a relative non puncher and certainly not a big welter.
Everyone built Breidis Prescott up to be some kind of murderous puncher after he wiped Khan out but that was five years ago and, in 11 fights since, Prescott’s lost five and only scored two stoppages, both against nobodies.
Victory on Saturday evening will earn you the coveted Lord Lonsdale Belt for keeps. How big a motivation is that?
Previously, it wasn’t a big thing for me. I was more focussed on simply maintaining my unbeaten record but now I’m just one win away, it’s suddenly become a huge factor.
When you first win it, you get to keep it for a few weeks so that you can have photos done, then you return it to the Board. But after that, you just get to see your Belt on the night then the Board take it back again so it’ll be great to have it for good.
I’ll not be keeping it at home, mind. I might stick it up in my mate’s office.
Challenger David Barnes, a former four time national schoolboy champion and two-weight British title holder in pros was, like yourself, once considered the ‘Next Best Thing’ before incurring a few hiccups. Do you respect his talent?
He was very talented, not any more. Did you see his last two fights? He was getting pushed back by journeymen who I’d have blown away. If they could hit him, I will. I’d have been embarrassed by those performances yet he was quite chuffed afterwards. Look, anyone can have a bad round but you don’t have bad fights.
Last time, he was scheduled to fight Craig Watson in an eliminator so he can’t complain he wasn’t in shape and took (opponent) William Warburton lightly.
Barnes ain’t a bad counter puncher and he slows the pace well. But he brags that he’s going to knock me out yet his record certainly doesn’t suggest he’s capable of doing that. When’s the last time he stopped or even dropped someone? He certainly doesn’t hit harder than Vassell.
You’re a pretty chilled individual away from boxing but, not for the first time, you’ve become involved in a bit of a Twitter war with your opponent. Do you need a bit of needle to help you get your fight face on?
No, no. I’d much rather everything was respectful. But Barnes has been giving it to me on the sites for nothing so I just say: ‘See you on the night.’
Barnes tweets that he’s my friend. He ain’t my friend?! I think I’ve met him once and said ‘Hello’.
Why do you win?
Cos he ain’t what he was. Unlike him, I’m unbeaten. He got stopped by Joshua Okine who’s nothing special and Jimmy Vincent got robbed blind against him when they fought for the vacant British title.
I’ve got the youth and just as much experience. Unlike me, he came up short when he challenged for both the Commonwealth and InterContinental Belts…..and he definitely ain’t won the Irish title (laughs)!
I can’t see anyway he’s going to beat me.