Family affair for Yafai

  • By: Simon Crawford
  • Last Updated: May 5 2014, 9:24 BST

Kal Yafai hopes it will be a night his family never forget when he boxes in Leeds later this month.

Kal Yafai: Has vowed to wow the fans in Leeds
Kal Yafai: Has vowed to wow the fans in Leeds

The 24-year-old from Birmingham has been handed a surprise shot at the vacant Commonwealth super-flyweight title against former champion Yaqub Kareem on Wednesday, May 21 at the city's First Direct Arena.

And extra spice for the former Beijing Olympian and ABA champion is that younger brother Gamal is set to make his professional debut on the same bill.

Yafai has made a flying start in the paid ranks, winning all 10 of his fights with seven coming inside the distance and he is promising to put on a show.

"I'm very excited. I'm no longer a prospect and I believe I am ready for the big titles, starting with the Commonwealth," Yafai told sportinglife.com.

"Kareem has held the belt before and I know that it will be a tough fight, but I am confident of winning in style and building on that later in the year.

I found out after I had come back from a run. It was a surprise to be honest - I was meant to fight this guy in March in a final eliminator but obviously it didn't work out.

"Then [promoter] Eddie [Hearn] said he was trying to work something out for me to fight for a title. It is a big step up but I'm confident and I want to show everyone what I'm capable of.

"It's OK putting over journeymen and people I'm expected to win against, but I want to win this title and also put on a show.

"It's a Wednesday night which is a bit unusual and something I've never done before, but it means I'll have the weekend to look forward to after I've grabbed that title!"

Yafai was sidelined for seven months last year by a bicep injury that required surgery and he admits being out of the ring for so long has made him even more determined.

"I felt I had adapted really well to the pro ranks, but last year was a bit of a nightmare for me with injuries and that was very frustrating," he said.

"It was two months completely off at the start and when you're so used to being active that killed me.

"I'd had eight fights previously in the space of seven months and all of a sudden I couldn't do anything. But taking the positives, it was good that I had a rest and let my body recover - now I'm ready to go again.

"It was great to get back training again as I enjoy it and I'm in great shape once again."

Meanwhile, younger brother Gamal, 22, will be making his debut as a super-bantamweight and is relishing the opportunity.

"I have wanted to go pro for a long time and I cannot wait to get out there in the pros and show what I have got," he said.

"Obviously it is a lot different to being in the amateurs. I've trained for that - but you can only get the real experience in the ring.

"I've now got a tighter guard now and I'm punching a lot harder, plus it's longer hours in the gym but I'm enjoying every minute of it. It's great to have Kal on the same bill - it's a huge night for him as it's a big title."

Kal believes his younger sibling is capable of making his mark in the coming years.

"He's my younger but much bigger brother! I think it will be a very exciting journey for him," said the title hopeful.

"We buzz off each other in the gym - he'll try to outdo me and I try to outdo him. I'm a little bit ahead of him at the moment but I'm sure he'll catch up."

*Tickets are on sale now priced at £30, £40 and £60 available from the First Direct Arena on 0844 248 1585 and at www.firstdirectarena.com. VIP tickets priced at £120 are available exclusively from Matchroom Boxing on 01277 359900 and at www.matchroomboxing.com


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