Frankie Gavin had too much craft and ability for Denton Vassell at Liverpool’s Olympia on Friday. In a showdown between unbeaten welterweights, the skilful Brummie, who seemingly wouldn’t say boo to a goose, stuffed Vassell with all of the trimmings. Using deft footwork and intuitive counter-punching, Gavin outmaneuvered his burly foe for six rounds — at which point the ringside physician intervened and retired Vassell on his stool with a suspected broken jaw.
Gavin (16-0, 12 KO), often misunderstood as a poor professional – lazy even, confessed afterwards that a chronic lack of confidence had been the real culprit. Unifying British and Commonwealth titles against such an intimidating opponent will not have harmed him on that front – boxing’s Billy Elliott continues to go from strength to strength.
Vassell (20-1, 10 KO), had pledged to steamroll the Birmingham southpaw on the opening bell. Instead, he trundled onto a series of jarring lefts that caught him bolt upright and flush in the face. Gavin controlled Vassell’s position with an accurate jab — maintaining his lead foot outside of the Mancunian’s so he could drift inside and lock his man up whenever Vassell cocked his right hand.
Rounds 3 and 4 were congested. Vassell (10st 6lb 9oz) drove hard to make it a more physical quarrel — more his type of fight — while Gavin (10st 7lb) was warned for free use of his head. Decked out in black, Vassell’s Eureka! moment came in the 5th when he landed a drilling right hand that rocked Frankie’s head back as he dallied along the ropes. Gavin, though, momentarily ruffled, gathered himself quickly and proceeded to box as well as he ever has in the subsequent round. Textbook left crosses and follow-up right hooks whistled off the underdog’s chin, which swelled alarmingly and brought his night to a close.
Gavin requested a couple more fights before going after the domestic number one Kell Brook. Vassell meanwhile will look to reconcile this setback as a physical malfunction — freak luck — rather than a definitive loss.