Galal Yafai has signed with professional promoters Matchroom and he won’t be hanging about. In an exclusive interview he tells John Dennen why he wants to be fighting at world level in two years’ time
GALAL YAFAI, the outstanding flyweight gold medallist from the Tokyo Olympics, is turning professional. He’ll be wasting no time. His pro debut will be scheduled for 10 rounds.
“I’m not starting off in the deep end but I’m not starting off lightly,” he told Boxing News. “I think I’ll be ready for 10 rounds. I’m 29. It’s not like I’m a 20-year-old who’s raw. I’m Olympic champion I should be ready for 10 rounds really.
“When we were doing my deal I was saying to the promoters no six rounders, no four rounders. There’s no point. Four rounders is an insult to me. Not being big headed, I feel like four rounders there’s no point. I’ve done numerous WSBs [bouts in the World Series of Boxing]. I’ve boxed the best fighters in WSB over five rounders for years. If anything I was going to start off with eight or 10 rounds and 10 rounds is the one.”
He’s signed with Matchroom Boxing and will have his first bout at the O2 Arena in London on February 27.
“I was desperate last year to get it done but there were loads of things, ins and outs you need to do, things like that which I didn’t really understand before. So it took its time. But I’ve got the perfect deal, the perfect promotional company. I’m just ready to fight now,” he said. “Matchroom are one of the biggest, especially for me. My brothers [Kal and Gamal] being there, [Matchroom] are British and Eddie Hearn’s a huge promoter in the world. I think they were always going to be one of the main ones [he was considering]. I think it speaks for itself. We all know as boxing fans Matchroom are one of the best in the world. Not just in Britain but in the whole world.
“It was a perfect fit for me.”
Matchroom also work with many of the big names in flyweight and super-flyweight division. In the coming weeks for instance they will stage contests with Roman Gonzalez, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, Carlos Cuadras and Julio Cesar Martinez. Galal wants to be fighting at that level within two years.
“In two years I think I should be ready. You never know with this pro game. It could happen after a year and a half, you never know, but it’ll be interesting to see,” Galal said. “I think if I’m not in those kind of fights in the next two years then people will be disappointed. Especially as I’m Olympic champion, I’m almost expected to be up there quite soon. It’s not pressure but I think it’s exciting for me. I’m looking forward to being in them big fights, like you said, sooner rather than later.
“That was one of the main reasons as well [that he signed with Matchroom], at flyweight, they’ve got a few world champions, I know they’ve got a few light-flyweight world champions that will no doubt come up in a few years, a few super-flyweights. It’s never been a glamorous division but Eddie Hearn seems to have made it a little bit more glamorous now.”
Galal’s brothers Kal and Gamal are already Matchroom fighters. The three Birmingham brothers boxing eventually on the same show would be highly appealing. “I think it’s inevitable. The three of us boxing under the same banner, for Matchroom, it would be nice to box together before our careers end. I should say their careers end, I’m just starting. It would be nice, hopefully it can happen in the near future. As long as I’m a world champion and I’m doing well, that’s the main thing.”
He does promise to bring the same seek-and-destroy approach, that so impressed at the Tokyo Games, with him to professional boxing. “I think I have to. I don’t know how to do anything else,” Galal says. “I’ve got to be smarter, I know. But that’s what got me to the top of amateur boxing, so hopefully it can take me to the top of professional boxing.”