Kal Yafai is Britain’s longest reigning world champion but nearly let his world title slip away

Kal Yafai is Britain’s longest reigning world champion, but he nearly let his world title slip away before a career-defining clash with Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez.

The Birmingham man has held the WBA super-flyweight belt since December 2016 and makes his sixth title defence against ‘Chocolatito’, a four-weight world champion, in the early hours of Sunday in Texas, live on Sky Sports.

Yafai intends to topple the renowned Nicaraguan before unifying the division, although the unbeaten 30-year-old revealed how he almost endured a self inflicted loss.

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Punch power✅
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Technical skills✅@iam_yafai says @chocolatitobox is the "full package" but he's still confident of retaining his world title ?

?Sunday 1am Sky Sports Arena? pic.twitter.com/ZrA467jAEy

How does it feel to be Britain’s longest reigning world champion?

It’s a positive, but it doesn’t really bother me. I’m not in it to be the longest reigning world champion. I want to be the best world champion we’ve got.

Have you earned recognition as one of the world’s best?

No doubt about it. I know I’m a world class fighter, but now it’s time to prove I’m an elite fighter.

Is there a secret to your longevity?

I live right and I look after my body. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke. I live a quiet life in the country.

What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced?

Sometimes it can be motivation against the opponents, where you know you’re on another level and you should really be disposing of them pretty easily. It’s hard to get up for those fights.

Are you referring to your victory over Israel Gonzalez?

That’s exactly the one. I took my eye off the ball a bit, but it changed a lot of things for me and I’m in a great place right now.

I thought to myself, ‘how can you be having a close affair with this kind of guy?’

Were you more fired up for the win over Norbelto Jimenez?

He was a tricky opponent, very negative, a spoiler. It was a horrible opponent to look good against.

I suffered with my hands in that fight and two perforated ear drums. My first cut on my head. I went through a few things in that fight, but I got the gut check.

What has been your best performance?

When I won the world title. I beat a two-weight world champion and I made it look pretty easy. I was expected to be in a very tough fight that night. He failed the weight as well, so he came in a lot heavier than me.

Will have that same excitement against Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez?

I think it will be even bigger, because he’s a worldwide star and is a former pound-for-pound king, so it’s a feeling that I haven’t had in my career.

What is your ultimate ambition?

To be the best I can be. If I can be undisputed, I will be. I want to unify the division and possibly go up.

Would you like a homecoming fight?

I would love to have a big fight, back in Birmingham at St Andrew’s, Birmingham City Football Club.

Do you get the respect you deserve?

No. Maybe it’s because I’m in a lighter division. I’m pretty quiet, pretty humble. People don’t see a lot of me, so maybe that’s a reason why.

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