Frankie Gavin Q&A: ‘ I think I should have achieved more as a pro and hopefully it’s not too late.’

By Boxing News - 08/04/2018 - Comments

Image: Frankie Gavin Q&A: ' I think I should have achieved more as a pro and hopefully it's not too late.'

Exclusive Q & A by Ian Aldous: On Sunday September 16th, former British and commonwealth welterweight champion, Frankie Gavin (25-3), will fight in his hometown of Birmingham as a tune-up for his European welterweight title tilt on Saturday November 17th against the undefeated champion, Kerman Lejarraga (25-0), in Bilbao, Spain. Earlier this week, the former amateur world champion took some time to talk with me ahead of a make-or-break stage in his professional career.

IA: You’ve got a huge opportunity on November 17th against Lejarraga. What are your thoughts on what the defending champion brings as an opponent to you?

FG: Listen, he’s a good fighter. We know that by the way he dismantled (Bradley) Skeete. But, I think Skeete flattered him, to be fair. He looked like he weren’t up for the task. I think maybe the fact that it was over in Spain, everyone was getting to him, I think.

IA: So, it was more that Skeete was poor than Lejarraga was good?

FG: I’m hoping so, yeah (laughs). He just didn’t look up for the task. He said he hit hard, but if you get hit in the head, I don’t see how you just step back and go down. I saw him do it against Colin Lynes. I’ve seen him a couple of times take a couple of shots and step back and go to the canvas in the amateurs. I think you either do that or you don’t do that. I can’t see me doing that. I’ll fight to the end. I’d rather get knocked out cold than do that. I’ve not felt his (Lejarraga) power, so I can’t really question too much of it. But, I do really think that I bring a whole different ball game to what Skeete brings.

IA: He’s warming up for November 17th with a tough fight against multi-time European champion and former world title challenger, Michele Di Rocco. Do you think that’s a risky bout for him to take?

FG: Not at all, he’s a lightweight/light-welter. He’s well old now, plus Kerman’s in the shape of his career. So, I don’t think it is at all. I think it’ll be a four-five rounds knock over.

IA: Your shot at the European title was being negotiated as early as May. It’s a long time to wait for a fight, was the fact you’d not fought since June of last year the reason you chose to have a tune-up fight on September 16th?

FG: The reason he had a tune-up is the reason I’m having a tune-up really. If he would have said, ‘let’s do it in September’, I would have done it in September. If I would have held out for purse bids, there’s a chance the fight wouldn’t have happened until January or February, who knows when? It might not have ever happened. When we spoke about terms, I agreed a deal and probably could have got more. I’m getting a decent pay, but probably could have got more, to be fair. A year or two ago I probably would have took it for money – nothing else. Now I’m taking it solely to go out there and take the belt off him. I’m training too hard to go there and just make the numbers up.

IA: You don’t have much to prove in the sport after winning a world title as an amateur and domestic titles as a pro…….

FG: No, I’ve got a lot to prove to myself. I think I should have achieved more as a pro and hopefully it’s not too late. I’ve got another few years in me, I know I have, no matter what happens in this next fight. I want to continue fighting.

IA: So, when you reflect on your career so far, you don’t think you’ve fulfilled your potential?

FG: I’ve boxed sometimes half-heartedly. Like, obviously I fought (whole-heartedly) all the way through until I lost my unbeaten record. I still think I beat (Leonard) Bundu to this day. I think on the night with Kell Brook, I just met a better guy. He had great tactics and knew how to deal with my style. I turned up and trained hard. I couldn’t get around his guard, he was sharp. I still think with the (Sam) Egginton fight when I was well overweight, I half-heartedly trained, and I didn’t bring any sparring in. I just took it more or less thinking I was going to beat him. But, I’m training hard now. I know this is a tough fight ahead of me and I’m going to take it with both hands and give it my all. If I lose in Spain, I’m going to be losing to the better man.

IA: Earlier this year, you had a date and venue arranged for an IBO title fight against Bethuel Ushona. Despite it not being a bona-fide world title, it would have still been a good fight for you and the boxing fans of Birmingham. How much of a setback was it and what really happened for it to fall through?

FG: I was gutted. One of the main sponsors pulled out. I’m not sure if they were ever going to stick with it anyway. We had everything in place and just needed the one sponsor who promised this and that and he just never turned up with it, so me and BWI promotions were left stranded. It was obviously too much of a risk for them to put that much money into it. Then I also got offered Josh Kelly on June 16th in Newcastle and he offered me decent money, but it weren’t great and I said, ‘put £2000 on it and you’ve got the fight’. I never heard anything again and obviously his team said no because Eddie (Hearn) wouldn’t have turned down such a big fight over £2000 or he would’ve got back to me and said, ‘this is the offer’. He never did that, so obviously they didn’t want the fight. (Either) Eddie was half-heartedly offering it or Eddie thought I’d get the fight made on my behalf and then see if they’d take it. I sparred him a couple of years ago, I weren’t in shape and I more than held my own and we didn’t really land much on each other, to be fair. I think he maybe thought, ‘what about if he does turn up – he can beat me over twelve rounds, I’m not going to look good against Frankie’.

IA: On September 8th, Amir Khan fights Samuel Vargas in Birmingham. Were you disappointed not to get to fight Amir? It would have made business sense for it to happen, especially in Birmingham.

FG: I offered it, I messaged Hearn. I don’t know what it is with Khan because it does make sense. Even Egginton, they should’ve offered it to one of us. It’s in Birmingham, it would’ve sold twice as big. I didn’t know who he (Vargas) was. I know he’s fought the likes of (Errol) Spence Jr., but I never heard of him. No-one in Birmingham’s going to know anything of him. But, if people got told Amir Khan’s fighting Frankie Gavin or Sam Eggington – it would have sold twice as much. If you hit Khan on the chin, he can go over, everyone knows this. No-one knows what he’s got left. If you’re slow against Khan – you’re fucked, you’ve got no chance. I’ve sparred Khan loads of times mainly in the amateurs. After the first couple of rounds, you start to read his speed. If you can get past the first few rounds – you’ve got a chance. I think (Kell) Brook would dismantle Khan and take him to school. I really think he’d knock him out as well.

IA: Hopefully that fight will happen.

FG: I hope it happens, I want to watch it.

IA: You’re now signed with BCB promotions. They seem to be making a name for themselves on the British boxing scene.

FG: They’re not doing bad at all. They’ve got some decent fighters and hopefully it’ll be the start of something big.

IA: Who’s your current trainer? I believe you were without a trainer last I heard?

FG: I’m training with Malcolm Melvin. I was with Steve Maylett in Manchester, but to be honest it was costing too much money to train there not knowing if I was going to fight or not. Steve Maylett was a fantastic coach, couldn’t take nothing away from him. He was getting me in great shape for the fight, but when it fell through, it just wasn’t fair on him and it weren’t fair on me because I’d put a lot of money into diets and training. Also, I’m an amateur coach now, level one. I train a lad and he won the East Midlands Box cup at the weekend, he beat three quality lads – two who’d boxed for England. He’s only had fifteen fights – his name’s Jay Turner. He had three fights in three days and beat the reigning champion.

Frankie Gavin warms up for his European Welterweight Title fight later this year with a six round contest in his home city.

The 32 year-old takes on Kerman Lejarraga in the Spaniard’s back yard of Bilbao on 17th November. As Gavin, the former Commonwealth and British Champion, steps up camp, he will take part in a warm-up bout at the Holiday Inn, Smallbrook Queensway.

The four-fight dinner show will also feature Gavin’s stablemate Brad ‘Bosh’ Thomas, Central Area Heavyweight Champion, Kash Ali, and Walsall super welterweight, Levi Ferguson.

The show, ‘Bilbao Bound’, takes place on Sunday, 16th September. Tickets are £65 to include a two-course Sunday lunch or £35 standard unreserved. Tickets can be purchased by calling 07900 741 617