April 22nd 1907, a 22 year old by the name of Owen Moran won the Bantamweight world Title; outpointing Al Dermont in a 20 round fight at the National Sporting Club, Covent Garden. Who would have envisaged, England’s Second City would have to wait 110 years for their next World Champion, Khalid ‘Kal’ Yafai.
Born to Yemini parents, similarly to Prince Naseem, Kal is the current WBA super-flyweight world champion and represented by Eddie Hearn and the Matchroom stable.
Not So Amateur
Kal had a stellar amateur career, becoming Britain’s first ever U17 World Champion in 2005. Before an even better 2006, Kal won the ABA championships while still only 17. Unfortunately, he was dealt a tough draw in the world junior championships in the same year, and lost at the quarter final stage to eventual winner, Cuban’s Alexei Collado. Further amateur successes came when he represented GB at the 2008 Olympic Games before winning a silver medal at the 2010 European Championships. Untimely injuries stopped further amateur gold and Kal found the lures of professional boxing too hard to turn down.
Road To Glory
Kal made his much anticipated debut on the undercard of Kell Brook vs. Carson Jones and retired veteran, Delroy spencer on his stool after 2 gruelling rounds. By the end of 2013, his record stood at a perfect 10-0 and his first professional title shot loomed. On May 21st 2014, Kal won the Commonwealth Super-flyweight title taking 3 rounds to dispatch the respectable, Yaqub Kareem.
Ever the growing name, Kal was then tasked with being chief support to George Groves’ comeback fight at Wembley Arena against Christopher Rebrasse, winning the IBF inter-continental championship knocking out Herald Molina in 2 rounds. By the end of 2015, Kal had stretched his record to 17-0 with 11 knockouts adding the British Super-Flyweight Title to his mounting collection. Kal had Eddie Hearn in his corner, and both had their eyes firmly set on a world title.
3 knockout wins in 2016 set up a world title shot in December and Kal got his shot. On a card that had some of the most anticipated fights of the year; Joshua vs. Molina and Whyte vs. Chisora, Kal arguably stole the show, winning his first world title, and Birmingham’s first world title in 110 years.
Band Of Brothers
Winning a world title at 27 in just 4 years as a professional, Kal has certainly set the bar high for his boxing family. His younger brother, Gamal, will be boxing on the undercard of Kal’s homecoming world title defence on May 13th. Having turned professional in 2014 and already looking for his 11th win as a professional, he’s eager to put an injury ravished 2016 behind him and really take off on his quest to his very own world title. Another brother, Galal is a British Olympian; touted for the brightest of futures in the professional game, widely expected to follow the footsteps of his eldest brother footsteps by becoming a world champion. The British soils are renowned for producing such great boxing families; we only have to look to Liverpool at the Smith brothers or down to London and the up and coming Upton Clan to see how boxing brothers are really thriving in England.
Eddie Hearn, perhaps the smartest boxing promotor today, has set up a card which features a who’s who of Birmingham boxing on May 13th to welcome Kal home with a Headline show. Sam Eggington, Frankie Gavin, Gamal Yafai and Ryan Kelly are all local lads fighting on the card, supporting Kal in his first defence of his world title. With Chocolatito losing, albeit, in controversial circumstances, a convincing win for Kal could really set him on the road to a huge unification fight – a pass to boxing superstardom, undoubtedly placing him in boxings pound-for-pound top 10. And when he makes it, we won’t be afraid to say, we told you so.