Sunday Convo: Is Galal Yafai the real deal?

If you quickly went to the kitchen to grab a snack after the bell rang to start the fight between flyweight Galal Yafai (5-0, 4 KOs) and Tommy Frank (15-4-1, 3 KOs), you likely missed the entire fight. That’s how fast it started and ended on Saturday night live on DAZN. Yafai jumped all over Frank and didn’t allow him to get started, which led to Frank’s corner to throw in the towel about halfway through the first round. It was an impressive first-round stoppage by Yafai for the short period of time the fight lasted, but that didn’t stop the peanut gallery called X, formerly known as Twitter, from questioning the matchmaking and the level of opposition. That begs the question, is Yafai the real deal or the product of great marketing and matchmaking?

We’ve seen this before in boxing, right? A fighter from the U.K. who has a great amateur career and comes from a family of fighters who have also seen success in the sport. It’s been the Smith family with Liam, Paul, Stephen, and Callum in recent years. Now, we have the Yafai family, consisting of Galal, Kal, and Gamal, who are fighters who have seen success at one level or another. They all benefited from the media machine in the U.K., making them stars, which helped them get a shot at a title. Some were successful as others weren’t, but the one common denominator was that when they faced top-level talent, they didn’t produce the type of fight that would not only earn them a victory but put them at a level where they were considered the best in their division.

For the Yafais, an example of failing to achieve next-level success came when Kal faced Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez (51-4, 41 KOs) in February 2020 and was defeated by the superfly legend. He held the WBA title, which created the fight, but when it came to stepping up against Gonzalez, he couldn’t pull it off, which made many question whether he should have had the title coming into it in the first place.

Galal is trying to erase that stigma and become something special. He started that campaign months after his brother lost the title to Gonzalez by earning a Gold Medal at the 2020 Olympics in Toyko. Yafai would debut two years later, and the buzz began that he would be fast-tracked to a world title opportunity, given his amateur pedigree. After three fights last year and two so far in 2023, that pace seems to match the intent of what Matchroom sees in Yafai. The names he’s faced don’t jump off the page at BoxRec, but they all have something in common: experience. That alone doesn’t get you ready, as the level of experience is what does, and we haven’t seen Yafai stop someone who is a former champion or in the top 15 of his division. 


With Saturday’s quick knockout and having the WBC International title, Yafai looks to be on the brink of getting those gatekeepers in the flyweight division. Yafai is 30 years old, and if he is going to make a run, the time is now as 30 is considered getting old in that weight class. Although he isn’t a gatekeeper yet, a fighter that could be an excellent matchup would be Angel ‘Tito’ Acosta (23-4, 22 KOs). Acosta was the WBO junior flyweight champion for quite a while, and although he hasn’t seen the same success at flyweight, he still carries the level of experience needed to see what you really have in Yafai.

Felix Alvarado (39-3, 34 KOs) is another name out there as he lost by unanimous decision to Sunny Edwards (20-0, 4 KOs) in November. He’s 34 and is coming off a TKO victory three months ago over Armando Torres (26-24, 19 KOs). That’s the type of fight you can make before the end of the year, and you have Yafai face Acosta in the first quarter of 2024.

Is Yafai the real deal? It’s hard to say, as he hasn’t fought enough rounds to accurately assess what type of fighter he is. We need to see him in the ring with some former champions and/or fighters who have challenged for a world title. Suppose Yafai blasts through guys like Alvarado and Acosta. In that case, he will be cooking with fish grease and on the path to challenging interim WBC champion McWilliams Arroyo (21-4, 16 KOs) and then the full champion Julio Cesar Martinez (20-2, 15 KOs). Until he gets that type of work in, let's ease up on the gushing and see how he does with the next level of opponents.