Opinion | May 15 2017

In Clarke’s Shoes: Behind the scenes at Kal Yafai’s world title defence

Andy Clarke is in the thick of it at the Kal Yafai show in Birmingham
Kal Yafai
Yafai was one of the Beijing Olympians to become a professional world champion Matchroom/Lawrence Lustig

A bit of a break after Wembley was a good thing for all involved I think. People needed a rest, if just for a couple of days as events like that are very draining. It’s fine if you do what I do, as a commentator you really only have to worry about yourself, but everyone involved on the production side just has so much detail to attend to that a period of decompression is pretty crucial. And not having a show the very next week I think also avoided that “morning after the night before” kind of feeling that would have been hard to shake otherwise.

And so it was on to Birmingham and Kal Yafai’s first defence of the WBA super-flyweight title he won against Luis Concepcion in Manchester before Christmas. It was a voluntary defence and the opponent selected was Suguru Muranaka, not someone I knew a huge amount about and I didn’t emerge from Tuesday’s open workout at the Bullring any the wiser as the Japanese fighter hardly did anything in the ring at all. Some fighters do, some fighters don’t, it’s their choice.

The workout and Friday’s weigh-in, both at the same venue, were very well attended. I had to collect details of the corners and officials which is a job that requires a bit of strategy as fighters tend to pop up and disappear pretty quickly. Renald Garrido was on the card taking on Frankie Gavin and he wrote his team’s names down for me. One of them was given as Leven Alain. Nothing unusual in that I thought, I’d not heard of him but I couldn’t be expected to recognise the name of every French cornerman. But I had heard of him as it turned out because the gentleman in question wasn’t Leven Alain but Alan Levene. And he’s from Liverpool, the left bank of the Mersey rather than the left bank of the Seine. You have to be on your toes in boxing, always.


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