As guests go, Frankie Gavin proved to be the worst of them. At Walsall Town Hall Friday, against local favourite Jason Welborn, Gavin trod mud on the carpet, emptied the fridge and flipped his host’s other invitees the bird, and he did it in the most peremptory way imaginable. Welborn barely landed a punch through six rounds before Gavin ended his challenge in round 7 with a sneaky left hand that snaked under the Tividale man’s guard and buried its way into his solar plexus. Welborn sank down for a count, beaten at that point, before exhibiting a mettlesome spirit in rising to accept the obligatory peppering in closing. Referee Ian John-Lewis from England pulled the plug at the 2:35 mark with Welborn cowed into the ropes.
Gavin, Birmingham, 15-0 (11), continues his renaissance after a dowdy start to life as a professional fighter. The British welterweight champion, making his first defence here, has a rare mastery of distance and range that is unteachable in the gymnasium. The champion’s speed of foot (and their placement) affords him control of opponents, who he snipes with an excellent southpaw right jab before mixing in sharp lefts varied upstairs and down. He possibly leaves his head over his front foot a little too often for safe-keeping, yet can get away with it at this level thanks to his radar-like head movement. It is unfortunate indeed that Welborn, 11-2 (5), was made to look like a lumbering lug from a chop-socky movie, swinging and missing while walking onto a nose-job. For one so hard working, he probably deserved better.
Gavin bloodied Welborn’s beak in the 2nd round and won every minute of the others, despite catching a breather in the 5th. Trainer Tom Chaney, working alongside Dean Powell in the corner, reminded the 27-year-old against coasting between rounds and Gavin, mindful of what he required in terms of performance, meted out a boxing lesson in round 6.
The finish was neat. As Welborn, 146 ¼, charged, Gavin, 146 ½, backed up, set himself and then backed up again before springing his trap. It was exactly the type of finish both he and his team would have been hoping for. A match against Manchester powerhouse Denton Vassell in the coming months would bring him on again.
Martin Gethin, Walsall, became British lightweight champion in the chief supporting bout, taking apart Hove muscleman Ben Murphy in 9 rounds. The visitor, who swings for the fences with every punch, dipped and winged his way into an early lead but he never looked comfortable in doing so. Gethin, 24-3-1 (11), meanwhile was unflappability itself. He walked Murphy, 9-6-1 (5), down methodically behind straight punches mixed with smart uppercuts, and here’s the thing; he barely wasted a single one of them. A concerted body assault dipped Murphy’s knees in round 8 and, after being pinned against the strands for a full 56 seconds in the subsequent frame, third man Marcus McDonnell of England rescued him from a bombardment he was unable to fire back from.
To see the pair beforehand -- Murphy, bulky, bald-headed and mad-keen in tiger print shorts and Gethin, unassuming, long-limbed and wiry -- it looked a one horse race. Thankfully, boxing isn’t all about physicality (for the time being at least) and Gethin’s simple but effective plot to put Murphy into reverse, backed up with a less obvious strength than his foe’s, robbed the underdog of all his momentum.
Gethin’s combinations flowed effortlessly and smacked into Murphy’s head and torso with increasing regularity. It showed that, even an opponent such as Murphy, who boasted of an insane level of fitness pre-fight, will run out of puff soon enough if repeatedly punched in the face. “The Quiet Man”, as the 29-year-old Gethin is known, could now go on to face the winner of the March do-over between “Dirty” Derry Matthews and Anthony “Million Dollar” Crolla after this, the best performance of his career. Both fighters weighed in at 134 ½.
Promoter: Frank Warren/Errol Johnson