Robert McCracken: Galal Yafai can prove the golden child

Rob McCracken believes that Galal Yafai is already on course to surpass the achievements of his brothers.

The Olympic gold medallist, on Saturday at the Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona, fights America’s Rocco Santomauro on the occasion of his sixth professional fight.

His promoter Eddie Hearn has already described him as the “future” of the flyweight division, and Yafai is aware that victory will keep him on course to eventually challenge the winner of the fight between Jesse Rodriguez and Sunny Edwards, who contest the IBF and WBO titles.

Kal Yafai, at 34 the oldest of the Yafai brothers, retired last month having reigned as the WBA super flyweight champion from 2016 to 2022, and Gamal Yafai, 32, won the European super bantamweight title. 

The experienced McCracken was keen to point out his respect for their achievements, but he is also confident that the 31-year-old Galal Yafai can prove the best of the three.

“He’s got the potential to be, but talk is cheap and you’ve got to do it yourself in the fight,” he told ProBox TV. “You’ve got to perform in the fights, and Kal would be the first to say it, and Gamal would as well. He’s definitely got the potential to be the best of the brothers, but he’s still got a lot of work to do.

“Anybody who wins the gold at the Olympics has the potential, long-term, to become a world champion in the pro game if they work hard and are dedicated to it. [You] get the right opportunities at the right time. Galal’s been moved quickly, probably at the right pace for me, age-wise, and so he’s in a really good position. He’s got a big future ahead of him, but each fight now isn’t easy, so you’ve got to be prepared for each fight, win the fights, and learn from them. It prepares you better to, eventually, fight for a world title.

"As you saw at the Olympics [2020 in Tokyo, he’s] good physically, smart, but you just can’t rush pro boxing, and you can’t rush fights and try and close the gap too quickly. You’ve got to apply smart pressure in these fights, and work on angles and stuff. So [Santomauo] would be a really good test for Galal, and a good learning fight for him.”

Yafai’s retirement came after his defeat by Jonathan Rodriguez.

“He’s had a fantastic career,” McCracken said. “Six world-title defences; seven world title fights, lost his title to ‘Chocolatito’ [Roman Gonzalez, via TKO ninth-round stoppage] who’s a brilliant fighter. Weight-making and motivation – life changes and all that – all comes into it and just where he’s placed and where he’s at, he’s a very sensible kid, Khalid, and he felt it was the right time to stop boxing.

“[He] possibly had a fight or two, just to have a look at where he was really at and I think we got the answer – he’s happily retired now and he’s out here supporting his brother.

“[Galal] just misses him in the gym – he misses training alongside him – but you know they’ve done untold sparring, and I think Galal has learnt a lot off Kal, hopefully that’ll be shown moving forward. They’re brothers but they’ve sparred a lot together – they’ve been roommates and teammates as well on GB. 

“He couldn’t have achieved anymore, and he gave it everything, 100 per cent. Let’s hope Galal can now go on and achieved what his brother’s achieved.”