2008 GB Olympians; A look at the careers

By Cain Bradley on April 25, 2017
2008 GB Olympians; A look at the careers
James DeGale is currently the standout of the 2008 class, although it is getting close.

At the 2008 Olympics, Great Britain had its most successful Olympics since 1956 when it comes to boxing…

At the 2008 Olympics, Great Britain had its most successful Olympics since 1956 when it comes to boxing. One gold and two silvers were considered superb results. From the 2003 World Championship where Britain had no boxers to Amir Khan the following year at the Olympics and only Neil Perkins in 2005, team GB improved to have eight boxers in Beijing. The eight boxers have all had different careers since those Olympics so we look alphabetically at how they have fared.

James DeGale
James DeGale is currently the standout in this class, although it is getting close. DeGale got the gold medal at the 2008 Olympics as the favourites were knocked out early. He won the British title in his ninth fight but lost to amateur rival George Groves only a few fights later. Since then DeGale has grown as a boxer. The few years in between saw people questioning his ability and are probably partially the reason he has fought abroad in his last four times. He became too passive and would often lose rounds due to lack of activity but lately has kept his aggressiveness up. He beat Andre Dirrell by unanimous decision and most recently drew with Badou Jack in a brilliant fight at the start of the year. Jack moved up from super middleweight which left DeGale as the number one ranked boxer in the division. Callum Smith, George Groves and Chris Eubank have all spoken of getting to fight DeGale so hopefully he can add to his legacy in front of his home fans.

Frankie Gavin
Boxing does not operate like American college sports, but if it did Gavin would have dropped down the draft due to character concerns. His talent was clear as Britain’s first amateur world champion. He then missed weight for the Olympic Games where he would have been a huge medal favourite. Nicknamed “Funtime,” Gavin has been talented enough to beat most opponents but step ups in Leonard Bundu and Sam Eggington have saw him come out on the losing end. His best win came against Bradley Skeete but he now plans to lose some weight to campaign at light-welterweight, something advocated by critics including Matthew Macklin who suggested Gavin “needs a honest conversation with himself.” It may be too late for Gavin to reach his potential which is a horrible shame as his timing and ability to gauge distance was incredible. Right now he is one to file under the wasted talent folder.

Tony Jeffries
Tony Jeffries was a superb amateur who represented his country multiple times. The pinnacle came in Beijing when he won the bronze medal, defeating Eleider Alvarez who has since become an impressive professional. Jeffries announced his signing at half time of a football match at his beloved Sunderland FC. Tony Jeffries only managed ten professional bouts. He never beat a notable opponent but won all his bouts except one, a draw against Michael Banbula. Jeffries was perhaps fortunate but his camp were shocked the fight was eight rather than six rounds. Instead due to consistent injuries, mainly in his hands, Jeffries retired in 2012. After a period of depression which included piling the pounds on, Jeffries has made the best of a bad situation. He now owns the Box ‘N’ Burn boxing gym in Santa Monica and could be seen cornering Travis Browne and Brendan Schaub, the UFC fighters. He has also turned his hand to acting and modelling.

Joe Murray
The Mancunian was disappointing in the Olympics losing in the first round despite being a World Championship bronze medalist. He fought seven times in his first year as a professional but then struggled to find opponents. His first loss came to when soon to be world title challenger, Liam Walsh defeated him to retain his Commonwealth title in 2013. The rematch came in 2015 where Murray was stopped in five. Later that year, he revealed he regrets turning professional and preferred being an amateur where he could stay busy. Since then he has won five fights against relatively unheralded names. The best win came against cocky, undefeated Rashid Kaseen. He stopped him in the sixth in a super fight. He has also stated him current aim is a British title shot at lightweight and you would definitely think he has the potential to get that belt. Also look for a potential bout with Scott Cardle, with coach Joe Gallagher being an interesting side story.

David Price
The big Scouser was seen as a fighter with huge potential after winning his Olympic bronze. His early bouts saw him win impressively. Domestic rivals Tom Dallas, John McDermott, Sam Sexton, Audley Harrison and Matt Skelton were stopped within ten total rounds. He was the Commonwealth and British champion and in 2012 was named ESPN.com prospect of the year ahead of the likes of Carl Frampton and Sergey Kovalev. However, he was stopped twice by experienced American Tony Thompson. Four straight wins came as Price rebuilt his career but was stopped by Erkan Teper who then failed a drug contest. His latest contest saw him stopped by Christian Hammer. It seems Price will never become a world champion but instead belongs around the European level.

Billy Joe Saunders
Only 18 when entered in the Olympics, Billy Joe lost to the eventual silver medalist. Spurred on by the failure which he “thinks about all the time.” The early career saw Saunders win his early fights. He won the Commonwealth title in his 13th bout and then went on to defeat Bradley Pryce and a then unbeaten Jarrod Fletcher. Nick Blackwell was defeated for the British title and he clashed domestic rival Chris Eubank Jr, in his third defence of that title, whom he defeated. He became the second world champion of this Olympic crop when beating Andy Lee for the WBO belt. Next up for him should be Avtandil Khurtsidze although there has been constant rumblings about a unification with Gennady Golovkin.

Bradley Saunders
Bradley opted to remain amateur after the Olympics. A hand injury meant he missed out on the 2009 World Championships before winning a silver at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. He would have his first professional bout in 2012 with a third round stoppage victory. His unbeaten record came to an end in his thirteenth bout when he was disqualified for head butting Renald Garrido after breaking both of his hands. Saunders also had issues with a blackmail case. Plenty expected Saunders to retire following that but he recently explained on twitter that injuries had forced him into time out and he wanted a couple of fights this year. He has also made it clear that his grand aim would be to be a coach of the British team.

Khalid Yafai
The oldest of the Brummie Yafai brothers, Yafai lost in the second round at the Olympics. He also stayed amateur following the Games hoping to qualify for 2012. Instead young Welshman Andrew Selby beat him in a box off. His early professional career begun smoothly and in his 11th bout he beat Yaqub Kareem for the Commonwealth title. A few fights later he added the British title to his collection. Finally he took on Luis Concepcion for the WBA title belt. Concepcion in his prime had only lost to some of the best boxers in the world but Yafai made him look completely average. His speed was so impressive and Yafai looks a potential superstar. If Andrew Selby or Charlie Edwards can also become a world champion then a big unification fight could happen down the road. Yafai is possibly the man who has the potential to be the best, with an ability to dominate a strong division.

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