Gavin Gwynne’s quick KO sets up another shot at the British title

Gavin Gwynne’s quick KO sets up another shot at the British title

This article first appeared in the Welsh Boxing Annual 2019-2020. Click here to buy on Amazon.

By Dewi Powell: Trelewis’ Gavin Gwynne (12-1, 2KO) began the ascent towards a second shot at the British title in strikingly strong fashion.

The Welsh lightweight champion kept his tools sharp by quickly disposing of Cameroon’s Abdon Cesar (4-11) with a first round knockout. The two-minute appearance headlined Sanigar Events’ show in Pontypool and it was a very different setting to his last fight. Three months earlier, the 29-year-old was edged out by Cardiff’s Joe Cordina in a challenge for the British and Commonwealth titles. It took place under the bright lights of a Sky Sports Box Office undercard.

“No matter where you’re fighting, it’s still a ring. Fighting at the O2 [Arena in London] or fighting in Pontypool, you’re fighting at the end of the day,” said Gwynne, who was practical about the transient switch of scenes. “You’ve got to get up for it, you’ve got to get it in your head that there’s someone in the other corner coming to take your head off.”

As soon as the bell sounded to start the scheduled eight-rounder, Gwynne was working to finish it inside the distance. He towered over Cesar and two right crosses in the opening 30 seconds sent the recipient onto his heels. Those shots were enough to persuade Cesar to back off and Gwynne followed in quick pursuit. For a tall boxer, Gwynne is deceptively effective up close and it took Cesar by surprise. The 29-year-old isn’t known for his power but his sheer size is a problem for anyone at this level. Cesar momentarily stuck to the ropes and Gwynne landed his favourite shot, a left hook to the liver. A left hook to the head moved Cesar off the ropes and he was clearly unsettled, constantly under scrutiny from Gwynne’s rough inspection.

The end came as Gwynne unleashed a thumping overhand right. It detonated high on the side of Cesar’s head, almost behind his ear, and it crumbled him to the canvas. Referee Chris Jones took up the count and Cesar met the mandatory eight count, only for his body language to suggest he had little interest in continuing for another seven rounds.

“I hit him with a hook to the body and to the head. He gasped for air and then I hit him with an uppercut, another left hook and he went sprawling to the other side of the ring,” said Gwynne, reliving his first knockout in three years. “I thought ‘I’ve got him, I’ve only got to catch him clean.’ That’s what I done. It was a temple shot and he just went down.

“I thought I’d go to the body because he did have a hard head and he hurt my hand. The right hook I threw, the one he dropped to, really hurt my hand. I was glad he didn’t wanna carry on after it.

“One of the things I’ve been working on in the gym is trying to get my shots off from range. I’ve got more leverage in it. A fighter I really look up to is [WBA world super-middleweight champion] Callum Smith. The type of style he fights [with] is exactly like mine. He can fight inside but he boxes really well on the outside and puts his shots together, that’s what I’m going to try and do.”

Cesar represented Cameroon at the 2012 Olympics in London and was part of the squad to defect and stay in England. The 34-year-old, now based in County Durham, has fought on the road as a professional and found it tough. Cesar has mainly fulfilled his role as an away fighter but there have been a handful of occasions when he’s upset home favourites. In October, he travelled to Liverpool to turn over local favourite Steve Brogan and that upset was fresh in Gwynne’s mind.

“Going off his last performance, he beat Steve Brogan. I watched a couple of clips on YouTube and I thought I was in for a hard night,” Gwynne chuckled in reflection. “He looked tough but I seen a couple of chinks in his armour. Every time he got caught clean with a body shot, he’d like freeze but Brogan didn’t switch on to it.

“I can punch but obviously, at the start of my career, I was held back and told not to stop these guys because it’s harder to get matched up as you’re going through the ranks. Before this fight, they said to me ‘don’t go hanging about in there, if you can get this geezer out of there, get him out of there.’ That was in my head straight away, as soon as I come out. I wanted an early night.”

It was Gwynne’s first fight since the captivating challenge to Cordina in August. Gwynne exceeded the pre-fight expectations of everyone except himself and appeared to persuade Cordina to return to super-featherweight. Initially reluctant to accept praise for a losing effort, Gwynne’s stance has softened and the passing of time has helped him to look back at the experience in a different light.

He said: “I was gutted for the first couple of weeks after I lost to Joe but I had a lot of positives to take from it as well. I didn’t disgrace myself. It was a close fight. I’ve watched it back a couple of times and to be honest with you, it was only a couple of rounds in it. He had a good start but other than that, it’s been a fantastic year and hopefully I’ll have an even better 2020.”

It was understood that Cordina would vacate the titles after his triumph against Mario Enrique Tinoco in Monaco. Gwynne was hungry for the silverware and well positioned in the BBBoC pecking order. The chance was likely to come against Belfast banger James Tennyson, who conquered Blackwood’s Craig Evans a week earlier. The Northern Irishman presented a formidable task.

“It’d be fireworks from the off. I wouldn’t take a backwards step and let him bully me,” assured Gwynne. “Hopefully in the new year, we get a call. James Tennyson obviously won an eliminator against Craig Evans, what a fight that was. I’m going to stay in the gym over Christmas and stay ready, just in case I get that phone call.

“I’d say he’s [Tennyson] world class, if I’m honest. The only guys he’s lost to are very skilled operators like Tevin Farmer, he’s a fantastic fighter but I think at super-featherweight he [Tennyson] was killing himself to make the weight. At lightweight, he’s a lot better and I think he’s a lot stronger.

“Of course I’d travel. I’d fight anyone and I’d fight them anywhere. Obviously when I boxed Joe, I had to go all the way up to London. As two Welsh boys, it would’ve been nice to have it in Cardiff but I’ll fight anywhere for the British title. I really don’t mind.

‘At the end of the day, it’s still a boxing ring. It doesn’t matter where it is.”

This article first appeared in the Welsh Boxing Annual 2019-2020. Click here to buy on Amazon.

Image by Liam Hartery.

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