Gamal Yafai discusses forthcoming European title shot on December 17

Phil Sharkey

On December 17 at historic Allianz Cloud in Milan (Italy) European super bantamweight champion Luca Rigoldi (Italy, 22-1-2 with 8 KOs) will defend the EBU title against official challenger Gamal Yafai (U.K. 17-1 with10 KOs) in the co-main event of the show promoted behind closed doors by Opi Since 82, Matchroom Boxing Italy and DAZN which will stream it live.

It’s the third defense for Rigoldi who won the vacant title defeating Jeremy Parodi in France and defended it against Anthony Settoul and Oleksandr Yegorov.

Professional since 2014, in the super bantamweight division, 29 years old Gamal Yafai became British Commonwealth and WBC International champion. He only lost against fellow British Gavin McDonnell, who had superior experience and fought twice for the world super bantamweight title.

“Maybe it was too soon to fight an opponent at that level – Yafai’s coach Max McCraken said – and in the ring McDonnell’s experience paid off. McDonnell won fair and square, I don’t look for any excuses.

“Gamal learned a lot from that fight and now wants to become European champion. I’ve been working with Gamal since 2014 when he turned pro. We train at the Acocks Green Boxing Gym in Birmingham and for the next fight Gamal had talented Kid Galahad as a sparring partner.

“In June 2019, Kid Galahad fought IBF world featherweight champion Josh Warrington and performed very well. Kid Galahad only lost by split decision. Now, Gamal is ready to fight Luca Rigoldi.”

By the way, Gamal Yafai comes from a family of fighters: his brother Khalid was WBA world super flyweight champion from December 2016 to February 2020.

Gamal, did you watch Luca Rigoldi’s fights?

“Yes, I saw some fights and he is a good boxer. He won and successfully defended the Euro belt and deserves respect. That said, I’m sure to beat him. I’m not going to say that I shall knock him out, I can also win on points.”

You won 10 times inside the distance. Do you consider yourself a fighter or a boxer?

“I have good boxing skills and I can knock anybody out..I consider myself a pro who can do everything.”

How much do you train for a major fight?

“100 times a day! When there is a major title on the line, I think about that in every moment. Talking about physical training, I usually train twice a day. This time I trained much longer because the fight was scheduled for last March and then was postponed many times. I knew about one month and half ago that the EBU title fight was finally scheduled for December.”


What opponent was more difficult?

“All of them were difficult in their own specific way. I never had an easy opponent and never had a fight which could be considered a walk in the park.”

Do you have a boxing idol?

“I always liked Prince Naseem Hamed, WBC/WBO/IBF world featherweight champion from 1995 to 2001.”

In the main event of the December 17 show, Devis Boschiero (Italy, 48-6-2 with 22 KOs) will fight Francesco Patera (Belgium, 23-3 with 8 KOs) for the vacant WBC Silver lightweight title. Also on the card, IBF world super featherweight champion Maiva Hamadouche (France, 21-1 with 17 KOs) will defend against Nina Pavlovic (Serbia, 6-3-1 con 1 KO). Euro super lightweight champion Sandor Martin (Spain, 36-2 with 13 KOs) will fight Nestor Maradiaga (Nicaragua, 8-9-1, with 4 KOs) in a non title affair on the 8 rounds distance. Roman super welterweight prospect Mirko Natalizi (8-0 with 5 KOs) will fight Manuel Largacha (Panama, 9-9-6 with 4 KOs) on the 8 rounds distance. Opening the show, Samuel Gonzalez (Venezuela, 22-7 with 13 KOs) will fight Nicola Henchiri (Italy, 8-3-2) on the 6 rounds distance.