Yafai vs Muranaka: Kal Yafai did what four of Birmingham's fighters came so close to doing
By Neel Khagram
Last Updated: 10/05/17 1:31pm
Kal Yafai made history in December after outclassing Luis Concepcion to become Birmingham's first world champion in more than a century.
The 27-year-old will make the first defence of his WBA super-flyweight title in front of his home crowd against Suguru Muranaka at The Barclaycard Arena this Saturday night, live on Sky Sports.
Ahead of the fight, we look back at fighters from Birmingham who just fell short in their world title pursuits...
Rob McCracken (33-2-KO21)
Rob McCracken is arguably one of the best coaches the country has produced having had immense success with the Great Britain amateur squad as well as guiding Carl Froch and most recently, of course, Anthony Joshua, both unifying their weight classes under his guidance.
However, the man who worked for a cabinet maker, from the Bordesley area of Birmingham had a respected career as a professional fighter too, winning the British title at super-welterweight in his 19th fight against Andy Till and defending it twice.
In 2000, 'Boxing Bob' challenged for the WBC world middleweight title against Keith Holmes at Wembley Arena but was stopped in the 11th round in a fight which he accepted despite being inactive for a year. The loss was his first as a professional. McCracken would go on to lose his next fight against the hard-hitting Howard Eastman in what proved to be his final outing.
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Wayne Elcock (19-4-KO9)
There is an argument to suggest that Birmingham's first world title in recent years was actually won by Wayne Elcock after he beat Anthony Farnell to in April 2003 to claim the WBU middleweight strap.
But the belt is not recognised in history as a bonafide world championship which fighters crave for and hence the case to call the Birmingham man a legitimate world champion is slightly tainted. 'Mad Dog' went on to win the British title at middleweight but was stopped in five rounds by Arthur Abraham in 2007 when he challenged for the official IBF belt.
Elcock retired two years later after being stopped by Matthew Macklin in a local derby as he failed to reclaim the British middleweight strap.
Matthew Macklin (35-6-KO22)
Having learnt his apprenticeship as an amateur at the Small Heath gym in south-east Birmingham, Macklin won the British and European titles in a gruelling professional career which included a domestic war of the ages against Jamie Moore.
However, 'Mack the Knife' can regard himself as one of the unluckiest fighters from these shores, not to win a world title when he lost his WBA middleweight title against Felix Sturm via split decision in Germany. The 2011 contest was his first attempt at a world title, and it seemed as though he had outworked the champion but the judges favoured the home fighter in a decision which many observers still question today.
Macklin went on to have two more attempts at a world title, but was stopped on his stool at the end of the 11th round against Sergio Martinez in a contest which he was soundly losing, before being destroyed by a vicious body shot against Gennady Golovkin in 2013.
Frankie Gavin (23-3-KO14)
A product of the Birmingham Hall Green boxing club, Gavin is widely recognised as one of the most naturally gifted amateur fighters to come from these shores having become Britain's first world amateur champion in 2007. However, weight issues meant he failed to represent Great Britain at the 2008 Olympic Games.
In the paid ranks, Gavin boxed only 19 times from 2009-2014 before suffering his first loss to Leonard Bundu for the European welterweight title in 2014. After a quick period of rebuilding, Gavin challenged Kell Brook for the IBF welterweight title. However, the night was not what 'Fun Time Frankie' had envisaged as he was stopped inside six rounds in a fight which perhaps came too soon given the level of opposition he had faced up to that point as a professional.
Gavin has since lost to Sam Eggington in a fight-of-the-year contender last year, but will look to kick-start his career this Saturday night against Renald Garrido on the Yafai-Muranaka undercard.
Watch Kal Yafai vs Suguru Muranaka's first world title defence, on Saturday's Birmingham bill, live from 7.30pm on Sky Sports 2.