“I thought he was spectacular,” beamed Eddie Hearn, discussing Galal Yafai’s quick weekend win over Tommy Frank last Saturday in Birmingham.
“I loved the spite in his performance,” Hearn continued. “One of the reasons we wanted to have a domestic opponent, was, it’s very difficult fighting international opponents who don’t speak English and you just can’t get any kind of build-up going, and obviously Tommy Frank said some things in the build-up that, I don’t think they were offensive, but just doubting his [Yafai’s] credibility, or, really doubting his ability and his position as a pro.”
Hearn’s job as a promoter is to talk up his fighters, of course, but there are many who feel the 2022 Olympic flyweight champion is the goods and will excel as a pro. It’s in the blood. Brothers Kal (former WBA super-flyweight champion) and Gamal (former European super-bantamweight champion) have already paved the way.
The 30-year-old prospect is now 5-0 with four stoppages as a pro.
But while many are sold on Yafai, he had a signal for the doubters once he disposed of Frank.
“Obviously you saw from Galal the way he dropped him [Frank] and was telling him to get up… I’ve not really seen that before but I liked it,” Hearn added. “I think, I expected him to win [Yafai], comfortably. I didn’t expect it to be a mismatch, which it was, which shows you the level he’s at, because ultimately, Frank is a British and European level fighter, and he stopped him in a round, and it was a mismatch.”
Now the pressure is on Hearn to match Yafai well, to get him rounds and to move him towards a world crown.
“I think it’s really important to move a fighter of his quality at the right pace, so they don’t get bored and so you can keep getting the best out of them,” Hearn explained. “But at the same time, we do still need to get him some rounds against that ‘gatekeeper’, before he jumps in with any of the elite guys, because they really are elite guys. I mean, [Julio Cesar] Martínez, even [Artem] Dalakian, obviously Sunny [Edwards] and ‘Bam’ [Rodríguez]. But I like the idea of him fighting on the ‘Bam’ [Rodriguez] and Sunny [Edwards] undercard in December, and I like it against [Carlos] Cuadras or [Srisaket Sor] Rungvisai, someone like that. It’s a big step up, but I just feel like he’s ready for that. I think two minimum, but three maximum fights now, before he fights for a world title. So, I think it’s very exciting times for him, and for British boxing, because I think they’ve got an extreme talent there that’s going to go on to be a multi-division world champ. So it looks like December 16 for Sunny Edwards-Bam undercard, and a big step-up against a world class gatekeeper.”