Feature | Jun 13 2019

Kal Yafai: ‘If I’d lost, I’d be in no man’s land’

After his last fight, Kal Yafai tells John Dennen that he cannot afford to be complacent when he defends his WBA super-flyweight title against Norbelto Jimenez on June 29 at the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence
Kal Yafai
Action Images/Reuters/Andrew Couldridge

What do you think of Norbelto Jimenez as a fighter?

It’s hard to gauge because when you watch him the opposition he’s fought isn’t great. The only fight he’s actually fought anyone decent was back in 2014, he boxed Kohei Kono for the WBA title in Japan and he got the draw. Since then he hasn’t really boxed anybody.

It’s a tough one. He looks like a boxer who prefers to box on the backfoot and try to keep me at bay. But you just don’t know how good he really is.

I’ve got to be switched on and make sure I’m at my best.

Kal Yafai Yafai
Yafai boxes poorly against Israel Gonzalez in Monaco Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing

What are your thoughts on your last fight, and what went wrong in terms of your performance?

It could have been a mixture of things. The atmosphere [in Monaco]. I could have possibly overtrained. I had a couple of niggles [but] I don’t like to make excuses. All in all it wasn’t good enough. It wasn’t the kind of performance that you’d see from myself. I don’t expect them kind of performances. It was a bit disappointing but I learned a lot from it.

I definitely thought I won the fight. It’s changed a lot of things mentally. If I did lose that I would have been in no man’s land so it made me look at things and keep that hunger.

It is a big wake up call and it’s something that won’t happen again.

It sounds like this fight in America will be taking you somewhere as well.

I’m looking to go out there and make everyone remember how good I actually am.

I want people to see me fight and after the fight to have that buzz about me again.

I do plan on looking explosive and looking very good.

In terms of big names, who would be the ideal fight for you?

The only really big names that are ideal for me right now are [WBC champion Juan Francisco] Estrada, [IBF titlist Jerwin] Ancajas, because they have the world titles, ‘Chocolatito’ [Roman Gonzalez] because he’s still a big name and the winner of the WBO world title which is happening on June 19 [Kazuto Ioka vs Aston Palicte]. I think Ioka should win that and he’s a big name, in Japan he does massive numbers over there and he’s a three weight champion.

It’s  unification fights really, that’s what I want.

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