Gavin on road to redemption

  • By: David Charlesworth, Press Association Sport
  • Last Updated: September 18 2013, 15:27 BST

There are few things more frustrating for boxing fans than reading about a hot prospect squandering his God-given talents by refusing to live his life like a professional.

Frankie Gavin: Would relish a fight with Amir Khan

Floyd Mayweather is proof, if it were ever needed, that fighters must show hard work and dedication to their craft outside the ring in order to be a success between the ropes.

It is a sentiment often repeated by the brash pound-for-pound king, who extended his professional record to 45-0 at the weekend with victory over Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez for the WBC and WBA light-middleweight titles.

Yet some boxers, for whatever reason, believe they can burn the candle at both ends. Former amateur standout Frankie Gavin is longer among that number.

In November 2011, the Birmingham man, England's first world amateur champion, was warned by his promoter Frank Warren that he needed to address his personal issues after Gavin withdrew from a WBO inter-continental welterweight clash with Frank Haroche Horta.

This came a matter of months after Gavin - who turned professional in 2008 after infamously failing to make weight ahead of the Beijing Olympics that year - squeezed past Curtis Woodhouse on a split decision in a bout some ringside observers thought he lost.

Slowly but surely, however, Gavin has rebuilt his reputation, winning four of his next five bouts by knockout, with his seventh-round stoppage of the previously unbeaten Denton Vassell for the British and Commonwealth titles marking a coming of age in the paid ranks.

"Since I've gone back to Birmingham, I haven't had a bad performance, not one. I've done everything asked of me," he said.

"I've just grown up; matured mentally and physically as a fighter and it's showing.

"I'm more professional now I've got my kids around me, which helps. Life's good. The happier fighter I am, the better fighter I am.

"Before I used to ask myself questions and I didn't really have the answers because I didn't know myself.

"But now I'm starting to believe a lot more in myself and I know what I've got to do to win."

This Saturday, Gavin (16-0, 12KOs) hopes to retain his belts against the experienced but limited David Barnes on the undercard of the British and Commonwealth middleweight title showdown between Billy Joe Saunders and John Ryder at the Copper Box Arena in London.

Victory would be Gavin's third defence of the British title, which would ensure he gets to keep the Lonsdale belt outright.

While he knows he is the favourite, the likeable 27-year-old knows talk is cheap as he looks to establish himself alongside the likes of potential domestic rival Kell Brook, who is on the cusp of a world title shot in the 147lb division.

"This is David Barnes' world title fight so he's going to be plenty up for it," he said. "I do really think I'll smash him up but I've got to go and do that. There's no point talking about it.

"I'm not putting pressure on myself, I know what I can do and if I go out there and do it then there's only going to be one winner.

"I think that's the same with anyone domestically; I think I'm up there with the likes of Kell Brook, (but) there's no point in me saying that if I go and lose to David Barnes."

While Gavin is eyeing at bigger and more lucrative bouts in the future - "I'd fight Amir Khan next, no problem" - he has no intention of standing down as British champion.

"I'm not going to vacate after, I'm just going to wait to see who my next mandatory is because it could be a good fight, who knows?," he added.

"I've more or less had every fighter in the country offered this shot and they've all turned it down, not one of them wanted to fight me.

"I'll vacate on my terms, not just because I've won the belt outright."

Gavin was once known as "Funtime" for his notoriety outside the ring, a moniker he has since discarded which gives the impression that he is now settled and fully committed to his profession.

And that should bring a smile to boxing fans nationwide.


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