sport

Gavin suffers first defeat

Talented southpaw Frankie Gavin was sent back to the drawing board as he suffered a split decision loss to classy European welterweight champion Leonard Bundu in Wolverhampton on Friday night.

The unbeaten Birmingham star looked out of his depth early on as Bundu's vast experience and technical aptitude saw him a step ahead.

Gavin seemed to find his feet in the early middle rounds but was floored by a body shot in the sixth and, despite showing huge heart and flashes of skill, never recovered en route to a first professional loss.

Gavin, the only Briton to ever win a world amateur title, was making the step up having already established himself as the British and Commonwealth champion and, in truth, had his long-term sights set on world honours.

However, victory at the Civic Hall was far from a foregone conclusion for the 19-0 prospect (12KO wins).

Bundu, born in Sierra Leone but based in Italy, boasted a proud unbeaten record of 30 wins and two draws on his ledger coming in, and the 39-year-old's tally of just 11 early wins did not do him justice.

The Brummie, despite the support of a partisan home crowd, clearly lost the first three rounds as Bundu landed the more effective shots.

The local man was finding European waters deeper than he had anticipated but showed signs - albeit too fleetingly - that the task might not be beyond him.

The fourth was by far his best as he calmed himself down and kept his composure.

But he was down in the sixth from a crushing right to the body which saw him crumple to the canvas. He dug deep, however, to rise with the count at nine and see the bell.

Bundu sensed blood and stepped up his attacks with the end looking imminent in the eighth, but again Gavin survived. Belgian referee Daniel van der Wiele could arguably have stopped the fight as the onslaught went on, but a defiant Gavin survived into the ninth.

He may have even won the last three rounds - the last was perhaps his best - before scores of 114-113 by two judges, against 117-115 to Gavin by their colleague, ensured Bundu kept his crown and added Gavin's Commonwealth belt.

"I'm gutted," Gavin stated afterwards. "I thought I won it and even Bundu told me I'd won. I haven't lost a fight in nine years as an amateur or pro so it's hard to take.

"But hopefully he'll vacate the belt and fight for a world title and I can rebuild and fight for the European again."