GOLD boy Galal Yafai made a brutal debut on Sunday – after becoming the sensational Olympic star of Team GB.
Boxer Birmingham, 29 years old, is crowned flyweight champion in Tokyo last summer to tell the story of Cinderella, who used to work in a Land Rover factory.
Almost all of Yafai’s amateur matches – attending two Olympics – are scheduled for three innings and a professional arc is usually an easy four or six.
But the youngest of the three boxing brothers boldly threw himself into a ten-round clash with Carlos Bautista at London’s O2 when he attacked the 8th team.
Before facing the Mexican, he grinned: “I get the idea very well. I’m pretty fit and think I can do ten sets.
“Hopefully it doesn’t go all 10 but I’m sure I’ll deal with it if it happens. I don’t want to fire all the guns in the first few rounds and blast a pad.
“There were a lot of expectations for myself, but now the Olympic gold belongs to my past.”
Jumping into the deep end of hope is the springboard Yafai needs to reach the world title in just ten matches.
But he’s seen enough of the dark side of boxing – in his own amateur struggles and the careers of brothers Gamal and Kal – to know it won’t be easy.
He said: “I believe I am good enough to be a world champion, 100%. But that doesn’t mean it will happen.
“There are always ups and downs in boxing. I have seen the first and second hands with my brothers.
“So I’ll just try to work hard and see what happens.”
Part of the O2 roof was blown off by Typhoon Eunice but repairs were successful and Sunday’s performance will be screened.
“I am used to fighting in empty arenas in places like Bulgaria and Hungary, feeling bored all week in hotels, so all of this is a nice change of pace,” says Yafai. .
“This is a lot more exciting, we have been put in a nice hotel and I am ready to go now.”
Hackney’s WBO weekly champion, 29-year-old Lawrence Okolie, plays against Michal Cieslak.
And he insists he did not panic when the roof of the stands was blown off.
Before his fight with Polish slugger Cieslak, 32, Okolie said: “I’m actually pretty calm about it all.
“I was thinking the worst case scenario would be for the war to be relocated and maybe it could be delayed.
“But I never try to let anything happen to me – I like to take things as they come.”
Meanwhile, Okolie still can’t help but laugh when someone calls her a world champion.
He claimed the cruiserweight crown last March and is now the proud owner of a faultless 17-0 win of his career.
His story is even more bizarre as he was bullied because of his obesity as a child and – just ten years ago – worked in a McDonald’s and was considered a career in the restaurants. social service.
The inspirational change from flipping burgers to making headlines at O2 still makes him smile.
He explains: “It started off a little bit more normal but I still laugh when someone calls me ‘world champion’.
“I always felt like I had to do something – but I didn’t know what it was. I am considering becoming a manager of McDonald’s and since my mother is involved in social work, that is also something I am considering. “
The 14th 4lb runner-up is desperate to unify with any of the three other champions with the WBC, IBF and WBA belts.
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But he found it to be a disappointing struggle and so was able to jump to heavyweight earlier than expected.
“Everybody knows I want to unify the division and ideally get there with all four belts,” he warned.
“But if the other champions avoid me, I’ll go ahead and get some real partners.”
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/4780350/galal-yafai-pro-debut-olympic-gold/ Superfit Galal Yafai is ready to go far in his 10-round pro debut after winning Team GB star gold at Tokyo 2020