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British trio make winning starts

Beijing gold medallist James DeGale was made to go the distance
Beijing gold medallist James DeGale was made to go the distance

British Olympians James DeGale, Frankie Gavin and Billy Joe Saunders got their professional boxing careers off to winning starts at Birmingham's NIA.

Gavin impressed in front of his home crowd, the Birmingham boxer halting George Kadaria in the fourth round.

Saunders did the job even quicker with a second-round win over Attila Molnar.

But Olympic gold medallist DeGale came in for a mixed reaction, being booed off after being taken the distance by little-known Georgian Vepkhia Tchilaia.

The 23-year-old Londoner, who has adopted the nickname 'Golden DeGale', entered the ring amid a huge fanfare in a golden robe.

But he showed only glimpses of the form that secured him his Olympic middleweight title in Beijing.

However, DeGale was still dominant enough to win every round on the judges' scorecards and earn a 40-36 points victory.

But he admitted that, in switching from four two-minute rounds as an amateur to four three-minute rounds in his first fight as a pro, and now minus his Olympic vest and headguard, he has taken only a very short step on what he hopes is a long career.

"The next year-and-a-half is a learning curve," he said. "You lot are going to see the best of me when someone is there and wants it just as much as me.

"People were telling me these journeymen come over and try and survive. It's true. I had to track him down and bang him around.

"I still had a couple of good shots but that's only 30% of me. I'm never happy with my performance, even in the Olympics, never."

Frankie Gavin (right) and Georgia's George Kadaria
Frankie Gavin (right) was given huge support from his home crowd

Gavin's fight was his fight since his heartbreaking failure to make the weight for Beijing, and he responded well to his move up from lightweight in the amateur ranks to welterweight at pro level.

Britain's first world amateur champion was made to work hard by Kadaria, the first of two Georgians on show, who attacked from the first bell and caught Gavin with a firm right hand.

But a deep cut to his nose after a clash of heads in the third round, which led to him needing six stitches, seemed to spur Gavin on.

The Georgian retreated before a series of shots to the body brought him to his knees. And, with just one minute and 21 seconds of the contest remaining, the referee stopped it.

"I've been in big fights before," said Gavin, "and this one was a tough opponent. But I've now got bright people around me and that's going to make all the difference."


Nineteen-year-old Saunders dominated Molnar until the Hungarian finally quit, turning his back on his opponent one minute and 47 seconds into the second round.

The Romany gypsy fighter from Hertfordshire was at his opponent from the first bell, landing some heavy combinations from the off.

Against an opponent with a relatively respectable 12-12 record, Saunders seemingly could not miss, landing stiff jabs, hooks and right-handers.

A right uppercut was the pick of his first round shots but it was a string of blows to the head which forced the Hungarian's premature end.

On the same bill, undefeated Birmingham super-flyweight Don Broadhurst, 25, made a first successful defence of his Commonwealth title with a stoppage of Ghana's Isaac Owusu two 20 seconds from the end of the 11th round.

Broadhurst, trained by former WBC world super-middleweight champion Richie Woodhall, made an electric start, flooring his opponent inside the first round.

And when he put Owusu down again in the 11th, this time it was stopped.

see also
Gavin cannot wait for pro debut
25 Feb 09 |  Boxing
Saunders relishing pro debut
14 Jan 09 |  Boxing
DeGale excited by pro challenge
02 Dec 08 |  Boxing
Difficult decision for DeGale
12 Sep 08 |  England

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