Boxing comment: As the inaugural British 2007 world amateur lightweight he was the much-fancied Olympic golden boy of Beijing 2008.
For many fight scribes Frankie Gavin simply had to turn up and collect his medal after he arrived in the Olympic village as part of an impressive GB team that included eventual middleweight gold medallist James DeGale, heavyweight bronze winner David Price and the current British and Commonwealth middleweight chief Billy Joe Saunders.
However those assertions proved far off when Gavin returned home empty handed without even throwing a punch after he was deemed “unable to safely make fight weight.”
The then GB coach Terry Edwards and Gavin swiftly came under a barrage of intense criticism which questioned the preparations and overall discipline of the boxer known as “Funtime.”
In hindsight, it seems that Edwards made the right call in withdrawing his fighter. Having had a close-up view of Gavin and the other Olympians for several years he knew when a pupil was slacking or genuinely struggling to safely make the required weight limit.
For Gavin dropping the final few pounds down to 60kg proved a bridge too far and at the time Edwards defended his call, saying: “Frankie was empty and I had the thankless task of telling him it was over. I felt if I pushed it any further there would have been a serious health risk. It was the hardest decision I have ever had to make in boxing.”
Thankfully the highly experienced Edwards decided that Gavin’s health and long-term future were the priority, realising a weight-drained boxer is a huge liability.
“Frankie was completely dried out,” Edwards said. “It got to the stage where even if he had somehow managed to make weight in time, it was going to be detrimental.”
Gavin sought to leave the heartbreak behind by signing a professional contract with Frank Warren. His February 2009 debut ended successfully with a fourth-round stoppage of George Kadaria.
Long earmarked as a fighter of great potential, the would-be champion has to master himself outside of his craft ensuring that his emotions are as sharp as his slick footwork or blistering handspeed.
Gavin is known as a bit of a prankster which could lead some to harshly doubt his overall commitment. Yet every athlete must find a healthy avenue of relaxing and turning off which for Gavin is found in winding up his fellow fighters or popping out cheeky verbals to the boxing press.
The 27-year-old Birmingham southpaw’s road hasn’t been easy, with several trainer changes and unconvincing ring displays which have given ammunition to the scoffers who believe Gavin will follow in footsteps of the now derided Audley Harrison.
On recent form, though, Gavin appears to be nearing his best again. Three wins in 2012 culminated in him bagging the British welterweight crown by outpointing former WBC champion Junior Witter and he quickly followed that up with his first defence last Friday.
Gavin completely dominated the brave Jason Welborn by eventually breaking him down with his scintillating speed and sublime accuracy, forcing the referee to halt proceedings in the seventh round.
The impressive display moved him to 15-0 and he now has his sights firmly set on European and world honours.
Realistically a world title tilt is at least 18 months away. In time Gavin could prove to be the greatest threat to current domestic welterweight boss Kell Brook, who challenges IBF king Devon Alexander next month.
For the immediate future Gavin needs gradually more advanced opposition and that could result in him challenging Commonwealth ruler Denton Vassell, former European chief Mathew Hatton or the battle-hardened Lee Purdy.
Whatever road he travels make no mistake about it, a peak and continually progressive Gavin will become a huge world player in the 147lb division with the likes of Brook and Khan firmly in his sights.
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