Birmingham’s Kal Yafai is currently the longest reigning British World Champion, but somehow finds himself these days as something of a road warrior.
WBA Super Flyweight Champion Yafai is 26-0 as a professional, and has now made five successful defences of his belt, but his last three defences have come far from his Midlands home.
Kal picked up his belt with an excellent wide points win for the vacant belt against Luis Conception in Manchester in December 2016.
His last fight on British soil came in October 2017, on the undercard to Anthony Joshua’s Heavyweight Title defence against Carlos Takam at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff. That night, Yafai unanimously out pointed Sho Ishida in Wales, but in more recent times has had to settle for defences in Fresno and Providence, Rhode Island in the USA and Monte Carlo, with no mention of a home coming fight any time soon.
Yafai backed up the Ishida win with a dominant stoppage win against David Carmona, and then laboured to a points win against Israel Gonzalez in Monaco. Last time out it was a routine defence against the limited Norbelto Jiminez, where Yafai scored a handy enough win on the cards.
It’s a shame not to tap into his home town market, as Yafai has already made a Title defence at Arena Birmingham, unanimously outscoring the teak tough Suguru Muranaka in May 2017.
The only reason I can see for this not happening is because of where the World Champions and world class opposition is in Yafai’s weight class.
Juan Francisco Estrada is now the Ring Magazine and WBC Champion after dethroning Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in April via unanimous decision, while Filipino, Jerwin Ancajas has made seven defences of the IBF belt. WBO boss is Japan’s Kazuto Ioka. All three Champions have fought in America, and any unification fights are likely to have to take place there.
Add to this the big contenders and former Champions, like Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez and the aforementioned Sor Rungvisai being mainly USA based, and it’s unlikely that we will see Yafai return to UK shores in the near future. The more likely scenario is Yafai being added to a UK pay per view bill against a relatively unknown opponent in a voluntary defence. As a World Champion, Yafai should be disappointed that he is seen as a down the card Champion, but I guess the Super Flyweight division has only recently become somewhat fashionable.
Kal has said himself that he is now looking for unification fights, and if he can secure a fight with one of the other Champions, and win, it would surely unlock bigger doors for him, and maybe even a headline slot either here or across the pond.