Swapping Pontefract for the Palace? It sounds like a no-brainer for Gavin Gwynne as his rescheduled Commonwealth title bout is moved from the sodden ground of Yorkshire to the marginally more glamorous Caesar’s Palace of Dubai. Unfortunately, it hasn't quite played out that way as further cancellations and delays have brought this fight back to UK shores as Welshman meets Northern Irishman on English ground once more. To Gwynne though the surroundings are of insignificance as his focus remains solely on lifting the Commonwealth title aloft and breaking Sean McComb’s unbeaten record in the process.
Gwynne (12-2, 2KO) comes into this fight off the back of a stoppage loss during Matchroom’s Fight Camp against James Tennyson, a result that he is determined to put firmly behind him as he seeks to get back to winning ways.
Gwynne meets Tennyson in Fight Camp | Mark Robinson Photography Ltd
Before delving into his upcoming bout with Sean McComb (11-0, 5KO), my curiosity led me to probe Gwynne about the experience of fighting behind closed doors and if there was anything he can take from his Fight Camp experience that has shaped his preparation or will benefit him for this outing.
“I found it strange that is was really quiet when you’re in there, there’s no one cheering and you could hear a pin drop. Even when I was fighting I could hear the drone filming above us going up and down, it was a strange atmosphere. Before that [Tennyson fight], I had fought in the O2 against Joe Cordina which was a sell-out. The experience of that then going to something with no fans there, it was a strange feeling. This is going to be similar but I’ll just go with it and treat it for what it is. Any crowd is better than no crowd!”
I put it to Gwynne, who is obviously a boxing fan himself as well as a fighter, that from a fan’s perspective TV shows with no crowds have heightened appreciation for the rigour and physical torment of close-quarters combat.
“[With no crowd] You can hear the punches a lot more and you can see how brutal it really is because you can’t really hear the punches when the crowd is going wild. When there’s no crowd there and all you can hear are the punches and it sounds brutal.”
Tennyson demonstrates his knockout power | Mark Robinson Photography Ltd
Coming straight off a stoppage loss to the heavy-handed James Tennyson, Gwynne would have been forgiven for a taking tune-up fight to boost his confidence and make a return to winning ways. I questioned Gwynne on how he views the Tennyson fight in hindsight and his viewpoint was simple, he got into a fight but Tennyson just had that little bit more in raw power.
“I’m a come forward fighter and you saw with Tennyson we just stood there and had it out for six rounds. I thought I was winning the fight but he just had that knockout power really, I’ve never been hit so hard in my life.”
Knowing that in loss there lays learning and that McComb, the slick back-foot boxing southpaw, poses an entirely different challenge than Tennyson, the forward marching power puncher, I was eager to gauge the confidence of Gwynne and how he assesses the skillset the McComb.
“To be honest, I think he’s made for me. He has even said in interviews himself that he doesn’t like to get hit, he’s not in the game to get hit and I think he’s just made for me. Obviously, we’ve replicated [McComb’s style] in sparring with the sparring partners we have brought in. I’ve been really lucky this camp, I’ve been able to spar three and four times a week doing 10 and 12 rounds every other session and Tony’s [Borg] chucking them at me fresh every two rounds! I’ve been sparring Akeem Ennis-Brown the British and Commonwealth champion at the weight above and I can’t thank him and the boys in the gym enough.”
Gwynne is ready to break McComb's unbeaten record | South Wales Argus
McComb comes into this bout looking to preserve his unbeaten record which according to bookmakers is near enough a foregone conclusion as they place him as the overwhelming odds-on favourite. I broached the subject of being the underdog and how that may alter the mindset of Gwynne going into the clash to which he jovially replied, “chuck a tenner on it for me if you want to!”. Clearly not viewing himself as the underdog I asked Gwynne if he was surprised bookmakers had it that way.
“No, they probably would because obviously Sean is an unbeaten fighter, but he’s only fought car washers, he hasn’t fought anyone. They haven’t done anything; all the people he has boxed they’ve probably had two weeks’ notice or they’re lightweights coming up to 10st and the boys he has boxed are tiny compared to me. It’s the first time he’s making the lightweight limit as well and I think he’s going to struggle if I’m honest.”
“He’s got to upset me really. Everyone in boxing, I think, they’d have me as the favourite, but the bookies, I don’t know what they’ve been watching. I’ve fought two world-class fighters and he hasn’t fought anyone."
No boxer contemplates losing in the build-up to fight night, it simply isn’t in their nature to let a single seed of negativity exist or to even contemplate the fact that they may come off second best. Gwynne is no exception to this. Tentatively, almost expecting no answer, I led into a “Where do you go next?” question. Where next if you win? Where next if you don’t?
“I live and fight again. I’ve lost twice now and there are fighters with eight or nine losses on their records but they’ve been in world title fights. I’m not boxing bums, if I lost to a journeyman then I’d give up, I’ve only lost against world title contender level fighters. I’ve beaten British title level fighters like Myron Mills in the past so I know where my level is at. I fought Cordina who will be fighting in a world title eliminator soon and after our fight, Tennyson knocked out the number 8 in the world in 55 seconds.”
“When I win on the 6th then maybe I’ll have a defence of the Commonwealth and then challenge the winner of the British title fight between Liam Walsh and Paul Hyland Jr, I’d love the winner of that fight. Get the win on the 6th and maybe a defence later in the year with crowds back in, we could have a homecoming in Cardiff!”
Date: February 19th, 2021.
Time: Undercard starts at 7:30pm. Main event approx. 10:00pm.
Venue: Bolton Whites Hotel, Bolton, England.
Channel: IFL TV - YouTube (UK) / ESPN+ (USA).