Khalid Yafai – From fighting on a sports hall floor to holding The WBA World title!
It’s just a few weeks to go until 27-year-old Khalid Yafai defends his WBA World super flyweight title against Suguru Muranaka in his home city of Birmingham, and it’s safe to say, despite his excitement, he is most definitely keeping his head in the game.
“I’m excited to be defending my title in my hometown, but it will business as usual!” told British Boxers.
December last year saw Yafai dominate his fight against Luis Concepcion, flooring him in the 10th round and winning The WBA super-flyweight title with a unanimous decision.
Now unbeaten in 21 professional fights, Kal, as he is affectionately known as in the sport, has said that this level of achievement in the ring doesn’t come without its drawbacks.
“Boxing is hugely isolating. I never do things I could if I wasn’t boxing, but I don’t regret it. Boxing’s given me the finer things in life that I always dreamt of and I’m only just getting started.”
Of course, it’s not just his lifestyle that’s affected by the tough training schedules, the sessions are very demanding physically.
“If I’ve had a very intense day, the next day I can really feel it in my body and that day is very tough! But I get through it.” added Yafai.
Despite all of this, the focused fighter looks to the future to help him overcome the negatives and keep on track with his career.
“Knowing that everything I’m doing now won’t last forever. I know boxing is a short career so I’ve got to stay focused and make the most out of it. I’ve got to secure myself and my family from what I achieve in boxing.”
Describing the sport as “Beautiful, ruthless and savage” the determined fighter stated that as a child he almost walked away from it all.
“I lost 7 fights in a row as an 11-year-old and thought maybe this isn’t for me, but I moved club and kept at it and here we are.”
Reflecting on this decision to remain in the sport, Kal spoke humorously of his boxing techniques as a novice.
“I struggled with keeping composed. I just wanted to swing away!”
This lack of composure also made for a very funny first sparring experience.
“It was hilarious! It wasn’t even in a ring! It was in a sports hall and me and the other kid ended up fighting on the floor!
However, even now, with his undefeated record and a world title belt, the super flyweight stated there are still things he wants to be better at.
“Use my jab more, as it’s the most important shot in the book.”
It’s not just his boxing technique that Kal works on during training, he also ensures he keeps a good frame of mind mentally.
“I’m very strong minded. I work off positive energy. I love being positive and it helps me look forward to training every day.”
This positive energy is certainly something he has had to utilise in the ring. Specifically so when he sustained a torn bicep during round two of his clash with Michael Ramabeletsa in 2013.
“In my 8th pro fight, I tore my bicep in round 2 and had to dig deep to get through. It taught me not to take boxing for granted.”
Kal also spoke of his 2015 fight against Cristofer Rosales, stating that his opponents front footed approach made him a hard one to beat.
“My toughest opponent was Cristofer Rosales from Nicaragua. He kept coming and took a lot of big shots.”
Viewing these experiences in the ring as lessons learnt, the upbeat fighter spoke of other important learning curves he has overcome during his time as a professional boxer.
“I should have saved more money when I was younger, but it taught me a lot and I’m in a great position now.”
Now, with his head firmly in the game the driven fighter stated he has a dream bout that he would love to make happen!
“Roman Gonzalez, because I know it would be a great, great fight! Our styles will gel.”
With his career goals set, Khalid Yafai’s hard work, focused mind and positive attitude, put him in a strong position to retain his title on May the 13th and ensure he utilises that jab more!