Kal Yafai calls time on career following first-round defeat to Rodriguez

Former WBA super-flyweight world champion and Olympian Kal Yafai has formally called time on his retirement following his first-round stoppage defeat to Jonathan Rodriguez (17-1-1, 7KOs) in Inglewood, California.

Rodriguez dropped Yafai early in the opening frame, following a right hook, and after returning to his feet, Rodriguez swarmed over Yafai with a continued onslaught of punches. Yafai was dropped again as the pair exchanged hooks, with Yafai bravely returning to his feet again.

However, the end was nigh, and Rodriguez’s pursuit of a stoppage was complete after 2:17 of the first round after another exchange saw Yafai rocked once again, leaving referee Thomas Taylor with no other option but to wave off the contest.

It was a sad ending to a career for one of Britain’s most decorated amateur fighters and accomplished professionals, having previously captured domestic and world titles.

As an amateur, Yafai would represent Great Britain at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games but failed to medal before capturing silver at the 2010 European Games held in Moscow, Russia.

Yafai would turn professional in 2012 at the Sheffield Arena, defeating Delroy Spencer inside two rounds.

Yafai would capture his first major title within two years of turning pro in May of 2014, defeating Yaqub Kareem in three rounds at the First Direct Arena, Leeds, to claim the Commonwealth super-flyweight title. The following year, Yafai would capture his maiden international title before dominating Jason Cunningham in October 2015 to claim the British super-flyweight crown courtesy of a unanimous decision.

Yafai would capture his WBA world title the following December in Manchester, producing a sensational showing against Luis Concepcion to claim a deserved decision on the scorecards.

Yafai successfully defended his world title five times before his title reign came to a halt in February 2022 against former globally recognised pound-for-pound number one-rated fighter Roman Gonzalez.

Gonzalez would halt Yafai in nine rounds after dropping Yafai in rounds eight and nine of the contest and returning to the list of champions as Gonzalez proved that he had plenty to offer remaining in his own glittering career at the time of victory.

Yafai would not return to the action for almost three years, returning in November of 2022 against Jerald Paclar in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Yafai would be dropped in the opening round of the ten-round contest before scraping through to claim a narrow unanimous decision points win. This would be Yafai's last outing prior to his defeat to Rodriguez.

Yafai would immediately call time on his career following his first-round defeat, admitting in the post-fight interviews in the ring that he knew this was the end of his career.

“This was the end before the fight anyway,” The 34-year-old Yafai said.

“I had ‘The Last Dance’ on my robe and engraved in my shorts.

“I knew I was coming to the end anyway.”

Yafai would end his career with a professional ledger consisting of twenty-seven wins against two defeats, with fifteen wins coming inside the distance.