Yafai Loses EBU Title
Birmingham’s Gamal Yafai lost his Super Bantamweight EBU Title in a sensational contest to the tricky South paw Jason Cunningham (31). This cracking title fight was on the undercard of the Buatsi v Dos Santos fight live on Sky Sports (15/5/21). Yafai (29) had won the EBU Title beating Luca Rigoldi on a unanimous decision in Italy in December of 2020. Yafai who before this fight had only lost once in 19 fights was the favourite going into the fight against Cunningham who had lost 6 times in 34 fights. Both fighters weighed in 8 stone 9 with the referee on the night being Victor Lockland.
Great movement by Cunningham in the first as he picked his shots well and couldn’t seem to miss with his straight left. Cunningham continued his great moments in the second as Yafai chased shadows, Cunningham then caught Yafai with two sharp left hands that put ‘the beast’ down. Yafia took a eight count and had sustained a cut above his left eye, he continued to pressure until the end of the round. Much better round for Yafai in the third as he started to put his shots together and worked Cunningham’s body. Cunningham had his moments in the round but Yafai got this one.
Yafai came out strong in the fourth but Cunningham Shot out a cracking straight left to put Yafai down for the second time. Yafai took another eight count and when the fight continued, he pressed forward but seemed to miss too much. Great movement by Cunningham in the fifth as Yafai banged in some big shots, both fighters had joy even round. Cunningham had Yafai on the floor again at the start of the sixth with a sweet left uppercut and then a straight left. Yafai took another eight count and fought back hard to see the round out.
The seventh was Yafai's best round so far as he poured on the pressure and got some good shots off. Cunningham continued to move well and got some good shots in himself but Yafai won the round. In the eighth Yafai continued to close the gap down and get big shots off but Cunningham continued to move well with some great shot picking to nick the round. Yafai poured on the pressure in the ninth banging in some heavy body shots, Cunningham picked his shots well but Yafai got this for me.
Yafai continued to pour on the pressure and seemed to really hurt Cunningham with big shots. Cunningham went down but it was classed as a slip, Yafai's round. Great movement in the eleventh as Yafai continued to press and pressure. Cunningham seemed to be enjoying the fight as he raised his hands several times in the round. Cunningham danced his way through the final round, keeping his distance as Yafai tried to get the Knock out to win the EBU Title.
The judges were unanimous with judge with Mark Lyson scoring it 115 to 110 and John Lewis and John Latham having it 114 to 111, myself I had it 115 to 112 to Cunningham.
Wow! What a fight, Cunningham was classed as a massive outsider by the bookies but no one had told him that. I think Yafai underestimated Cunningham and didn’t seem to change his approach even after the Knock downs. Yafai showed loads of heart getting off the floor three times and the Knock downs were not flash ones, he was properly put down. But Yafai showed his champions heart by getting up, but he never seemed to give Cunningham the respect he deserved. Hopefully Gamal and his team can go back to the drawing board and work out what they need to change to get him back in the title hunt. The Birmingham Boxing Column look forward to seeing him back in the ring soon.