Boxing

Lonsdale belt is coming home to Wales, says Gavin Gwynne ahead of James Tennyson British title rumble

Work underway at Matchroom headquarters on putting the canopy up for Saturday night first Fight Camp. Picture By Mark Robinson.
Andy Watters

GAVIN Gwynne hails from Merthyr Tydfil, the boxing stronghold in Wales that produced legendary fighters Johnny Owen ‘the Matchstick man’, Howard Winstone ‘the Welsh Wizard’ and Eddie Thomas ‘the Merthyr Marvel’.

Tomorrow night, Gwynne (12-1) is determined to continue the proud boxing traditions of the South Wales mining town when he duels with Belfast’s James Tennyson for the British Lightweight title, live on Sky Sports.

It’s an intriguing clash of styles. Tennyson (26-3) is a brutal puncher who has blasted out all four opponents since he moved up to lightweight last year. Meanwhile, Gwynne is a fearless and skilful box/fighter who’ll have the advantages in height and reach.

They go head-to-head in the first Matchroom Fight Camp, a purpose-built arena in Eddie Hearn’s spacious back garden, and, although Tennyson is the odds-on favourite, Gwynne predicts defiantly that the Lonsdale belt that means so much to him is going back to the Valleys.

“The British title is something special,” said the self-employed builder.

“You go down in history as another person from Merthyr Tydfil becoming British champion… Every so often we have a top class fighter coming out of Merthyr and hopefully now it’s my time to shine.

“I’m flying the flag for Wales at the moment because there’s not a lot of sport going on. I’ve got a lot riding on my shoulders at the moment but it’s good pressure.”

In November last year, Tennyson knocked out Gwynne’s friend and fellow Welshman Craig Evans. Evans made it to the 11th round but Tennyson caught up with him and a brilliant left-hook/right-hook/left hand to the body combination opened the door to a devastating stoppage win.

Gwynne says Evans has told him “a few things that gave me a bit of confidence” but he knows that if Tennyson catches him clean he’ll be in major trouble.

“He’s one of the most feared punchers in the division,” said the Welshman.

“I can’t stand in there trading away with him in the first round. I’m going to have to use my boxing ability in the first couple of rounds and try and break him down.

“His record speaks for itself, he is a massive puncher and I’m going to have to bide my time.

“I’m expecting a war. I’m not going in there to lie down, I want to take that belt back over the bridge with me - it’s coming home with me on Saturday night.

“I’m not going to out-punch him, he’s a massive puncher compared to me but I do carry a bit of power.

“But if I do feel his power isn’t all that (dangerous) I’ll sit in the pocket and swing away all night, I’ll do 12 rounds just chest-to-chest. I spar middleweights, I’ve sparred Jamie Cox who’s one of the biggest punchers pound-for-pound so I don’t think it (Tennyson’s punching power) is going to phase me.

“My knockout record isn’t the best because the first couple fights, when you’re fighting and selling tickets, you’ve got to hold these boys up and take them around. I was told to not go too hard on them.

He has always been always a popular draw with the Welsh fans. Because of Covid-19 restrictions, there won’t be any at ringside but Gwynne knows that “millions are going to be watching” on television.

“It’s a fight,” he says.

“Every fighter has to dig inside themselves and when you are in the trenches and the crowd is cheering you on, you dig down a little bit deeper so it’s going to be strange but it’s the same for both of us.

“BT Sport’s boxing has been bit dreary inside the studio but it’ll be different in Eddie’s back garden.”

The prize on Saturday night is the sought-after British belt and the dividends that are bound to come with it. The title will be a launching pad onto the world stage for the winner.

“This fight isn’t a British title-level fight,” says Gwynne.

“You could chuck a European title in the mix because I think James is a lot better than the European champion (Belgium’s Franceso Patera) I think we’d both beat him now.

“I know James has a world ranking so beating him will give me a world ranking and hopefully Eddie will sign me up as well.”

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