British boxing has enjoyed a rather successful last few years. While Joe Calzaghe marked himself as one of the best pound for pound fighters in the world with victories over Kessler and Hopkins, Hatton enjoyed a string of impressive victories over in the US. Elsewhere, David Haye has established himself as a promising and dangerous heavyweight after previously clearing up the Cruiserweight division, beating people like Fragomeni and Mormeck along the way.
But with Calzaghe now retired, and Hatton perhaps closing in on his last couple of fights, the focus has now shifted to a host of fighters stepping up from the amateur ranks - notably Degale (above) and Gavin. Since Degale's decision to turn pro the inevitable comparisons with our most recent Gold Medalist, Audley Harrison, have begun to surface, and the media scaremongers are already touting the slick Londoner to surpass the achievements of his predecessor. Perhaps winning a Gold Medal was the worst thing Degale could do for his pro career. Media expectation has already tipped Degale to capture a world title and thus break the current trend of no British Gold Medalists to ever have won one. It's a tough ask!
Gavin (above) on the other hand has been spared such attention, ironic really considering he is perhaps the stronger candidate for a world title. In not making the weight for his Olympic campaign, he has remained in the media obscurity, known by only a few who care to follow the developments of the boxing world. Indeed, Gavin is the reigning world champion at amateur level and he remains one of the finest amateur boxers in the world. Don't be surprised to see Gavin go quietly about his work for a couple of years whilst the media spotlight remains over Degale.
But as we know, great amateur champions don't always make great pros, and we probably won't learn much from watching them fight a few journeymen before they're properly tested. Harrison never really got close to challenging the best, and his loss to Guinn arguably came after the American had produced his best boxing. I imagine both men will have better careers than Harrison and they will probably endear themselves to the British public a little more. But the pressure for Degale to succeed will be immense, and I hope that he gets off to a strong start. If not, then I'm sure the British media won't be able to resist their classic knee-jerk reaction, and the knives will be out very early for Mr. Degale's pursuit of a world title. Good luck!
James Degale takes on Vepkhia Tchilaia (9-8), whilst Frankie Gavin faces up against George Kadaria (5-3) on the 28th February in the Birmingham National Indoor Arena.