Kal Yafai: The Homecoming Review

Reviewed on 15 May 2017
  • Event review

    Kal Yafai completed a successful first defence of his world title at the Barclaycard Arena with a unanimous points win over Suguru Muranaka. He will be hoping that this was the first of many exciting nights in Birmingham as he looks to turn the city into a boxing fortress supported by his brother Gamal, Sam Eggington and the experienced Frankie Gavin. There is a real sense that something special is happening in the second city.

    The approach to the venue was spectacular as you walk alongside the canal via Brindley Place. Getting into the arena was quick and easy with plenty of staff available to scan tickets and then show you to your seat.

    The Barclaycard Arena is a fantastic venue for boxing with every seat offering a great vantage point. Getting food and drink quickly can be an issue at sporting events, but this wasn't the case here with plenty of helpful staff on hand to ensure that none of the action was missed. The venue also offers a great range of drinks to suit everybody's tastes.

    The night kicked off with a crushing victory for Josh Kelly which came through a 4th round stoppage. The north-east fighter sent his opponent crashing to the floor earlier in the 4th with a right hook, Jony Vina got back to his feet but the fight only lasted for one more minute as the referee stepped in to stop the contest.

    The atmosphere in the arena was building and by the time Frankie Gavin entered the ring there was barely an empty seat in the house. The thumping music in the build up to fights and between rounds helps to create a real party atmosphere inside the arena which only adds to the overall spectacle; Matchroom and the Barclaycard Arena really do know how to put on a show.

    Gavin was returning to the Barclaycard for the first time since his loss to Sam Eggington, he faced a tricky test in the shape of Renald Garrido. This fight was very much a war of attrition with both fighters visibly hurt at various points in the contest. Gavin started slowly and was marked up badly in the second. However, the Birmingham fighter recovered and won the eight rounder by a 2-point margin (77-75).

    Gamal Yafai continued to impress in his own quest for a world crown. The class, smooth boxer landed some great body shots in the third which dropped the determined Davis, a follow up left hook nearly floored him a second time. Two more body shot knockdowns in the seventh saw the bout stopped.  

    Fan favourite Sam Eggington was next, the crowd responded to the Birmingham fighter by chanting his name as he walked to the ring. The hometown fighter landed two devastating left hooks in the 10th round which sent Rodriguez through the ropes, with a knockout of the year contender. He didn't recover in time and Eggington's bid to land a world title shot gathered more pace.

    The stage was set for the main event. Kal Yafai's first defence was more tricky than many people expected with the Japanese fighter Suguru Muranaka showing incredible grit. Yafai knocked down the 31-year old in the second round but was unable to find the stoppage as the Japanese fighter kept coming. The result went to the judges and Kal walked out a comfortable winner 118-108, 119-107 and 119-107 which was his 22nd unbeaten fight.

    Fight Results
    Josh Kelly bt Ryan Kelly – 4th round stoppage
    Frankie Gavin bt Renald Garrido – Points win (77-75)
    Gamal Yafai bt Sean Davis – 7th round stoppage
    Sam Eggington bt Cerferino Rodriguez – 10th round stoppage
    Kal Yafai bt Suguru Muranaka – points win (118-108, 119-107 and 119-107)


    This event was simply thrilling and a perfect night with friends. The atmosphere is absolutely electrifying and it’s impossible not to feel the buzz from the minute you enter the Barclaycard Arena. I would urge anybody with an interest in the sport to get to the next show and experience it for yourself – it is a perfect place for the sport of boxing. We are so fortunate to have such an accessible and sensational venue to soak up the atmosphere and watch action unfold. There has never been a more exciting time for boxing in the second city. Thanks to the Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham has now a real competitive edge; well deserving its emerging reputation as a world class boxing venue.

    Reviewed by   Marc Aston