High hopes for Birmingham boxer Galal Yafai after victory on professional debut

“Those days at the Land Rover factory are long gone,” vows Olympic champion

Birmingham’s Olympic champion boxer Galal Yafai expressed his delight after starting his professional career with an impressive victory.

Yafai, who comes from a family with great boxing tradition, produced a solid performance to defeat gallant Carlos Vado Bautista inside five rounds of a flyweight ten-rounder made for the WBC international belt.

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After emerging victorious at London’s O2 Arena , he said: “Enjoyed my debut. Still learning in this game - appreciate all the love and support!

“I’m relieved to get the first one out of the way. It was a step up for me. My performance was alright, I was a bit relaxed and got caught with a few silly shots, but I felt confident.

“That felt just as good as winning an Olympic gold medal, if not better, probably because of having the fans there.

“I used to hate working for years in a factory for a living. Now I’m fighting in front of these great fans and winning titles.

“Those days at the Land Rover factory are long gone. Never again!

“It will be great to eventually get that big show in Birmingham – just make sure I’m top of the bill!

His eldest brother Kal – a former WBA super-flyweight champion – added: “What a debut!!!! The G-man!!!

Galal Yafai lands an upper cut on Carlos Vado Bautista at London’s O2 Arena. Picture: James Chance/Getty Images.

How did Sunday’s fight unfold?

Yafai - who won flyweight gold for Great Britain in Tokyo last summer - was happy to trade and take the occasional shot, but he did a thorough job on the Mexican, breaking him down before going for the finish.

The Brummie fighter soon took control of the contest as he landed a series of hooks in the opening round before switching his attack to the body in the second round as he had his opponent on the ropes.

Bautista was brave throughout and did catch Yafai on a couple of occasions, but the Birmingham man was always too good and threw non-stop punches in the fourth round.

The fight was over in the fifth aft

er a four-punch combination ended with a straight right and a left which sent Bautista to the floor.

The Mexican got to his feet but his corner waved the towel and the contest was stopped by referee Mark Lyson.

Galal Yafai shows off his belt after an impressive victory. Picture: James Chance/Getty Images.

What have the three Yafai brothers achieved in boxing?

Fanatical Birmingham City supporter Galal, an MBE, won gold at Tokyo 2020 in the flyweight division and also secured a bronze medal at the 2019 European Games in Minsk, Belarus.

The 29-year-old was a gold medallist at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in the light-flyweight division and captured silver at the 2017 European Championships in Kharkiv, Ukraine, also at light-flyweight.

Galal’s eldest brother Kal, 32, held the prestigious WBA super-flyweight title from 2016 to 2020. As an amateur, he represented Great Britain at the 2008 Olympics and won a silver medal at the 2010 European Championships as a flyweight.

Their fellow brother Gamal, 30, is sponsored by the popular Digbeth Dining Club. Gamal held the European super-bantamweight title between 2020 and May 2021 and previously held the Commonwealth super-bantamweight title in 2016.

As an amateur, he won a bronze medal at the 2010 European Championships.

What’s being predicted for Galal Yafai now?

Highly respected boxing writer Ron Lewis, who has covered four Olympic Games and countless world title fights, said: “Yafai will be moved quickly, although promoter Eddie Hearn is likely to give him 18 months to move up into world class rather than forcing things too much.”

Former cruiserweight champion Tony Bellew has predicted Yafai will become an undisputed world champion at flyweight.

The Liverpudlian said: “This kid is the special one for me. I think with four or five fights he’s ready for a world title fight and I also think he’s going to be the first unified and undisputed champion we have at that weight.

“Eventually he’ll go through the weights. He’s just an unbelievably talented young man, he really is. How often do you see guys beating up Cubans in the amateurs? Dropping Cubans? You just don’t see it.

“He’s an exceptional talent and a star.”

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