Tommy Frank: “We thought we had the fight in the bag, so I’ve learnt an important lesson.”
Boxing is a cruel sport, a lonely sport. An unforgiving world where one bad night, one bad loss can relegate you to be being yesterday’s fighter. Friends go missing, promoters see no further use for you. A sport that is just a conveyer belt of talent, you have a sell-by date, once you have expired, the shelves are replenished. The fighter will linger on, drifting along hoping to become a wanted fighter again and not one that will see out their career in the away corner taking fights on short notice and losing fights that are way too often decided by the corner you are in.
Tommy Frank is one of the lucky ones. The Sheffield flyweight hopeful has a promoter in Dennis Hobson, who is loyal and astute enough to guide him back into title contention. Despite two defeats on the bounce, Hobson firmly believes his man can still win a world title. Hobson knows boxing, Frank should take comfort in the fact that his veteran promoter still has conviction in his abilities. Hobson hasn’t gone anywhere because he still thinks Frank is going somewhere.
Not so long ago everything was different. Unbeaten and a world title shot locked in. But then Covid hit, the world title opportunity was lost in that new frightening world. Frank returned to action in a car park in Sheffield late last year, it looked like a routine fight but yet again, Frank would suffer from circumstances beyond his control. The Sheffield fighter lost his unbeaten record to the tough Mexican Hugo Guarneros, boxing well and seemingly in control until a shoulder injury rendered him a one-handed fighter and his trainer Glyn Rhodes made the sensible decision to pull his man out after eight rounds.
Last month Frank was looking for revenge and redemption, but it was a fight of small margins. A wafer-thin split-decision loss left Frank on the edge of becoming a fighter of irrelevance, but Frank is determined not to become a lost fighter. Frank told FightPost he is more motivated than ever:
“I am a very positive person and although it did hurt for a few days after the fight, I just feel now I have got that fire ignited in my belly. I am used to fighting and winning titles and I had a bit of a buzz around me. You get treated differently after losing a fight, I am sure that’s just in my head, but you feel as though you are yesterday’s news, it is such a fickle sport. You are only as good as the last fight. I just want to prove I have got it in me, you have seen glimpses, but I don’t think anyone has truly seen what I am capable of yet. It’s just made me more hungrier than ever.”
The rematch was close, very close. The impression this observer had, was that Frank was leaving doubt in the judge’s mind and he just needed to do a little more in some of the more closer rounds to make sure in those pivotal fight swinging rounds. At times boxing beautifully, Frank looked as though he was winning with relative ease. But the aggression of Guarneros was causing me enough concern to think it might just be one of those fights where the scorecards are all over the place. The manner of the defeat has left Frank with plenty of regrets and frustration, and he hasn’t yet watched the whole fight back:
“I’ve watched bits of pieces of the fight, I haven’t watched it back from start to finish because it just frustrates me. You know if you have won a fight, my feelings and Glyn’s feeling was that we won it by two or three rounds. Howard Foster scored it about right, that’s how we saw it anyway. But all I can say is there probably was a miscalculation in how we were seeing the fight compared to how other people were scoring it. Maybe not every round was as wide as we were thinking. We thought we were winning the rounds but maybe we were not winning the rounds by much. Put it this way, if we thought it was as close as it was in the end, I wouldn’t have fought how I did in the final three rounds. We thought we had the fight in the bag, so I’ve learnt an important lesson. Even if you think you are up in the fight, you can’t leave anything to chance. If I would have planted my feet in those last few rounds I could really have cemented the fight on the scorecards. I love boxing I love what I do. But it can be so brutal, it really can. It’s fine margins and the boxing Gods said on the night I didn’t do enough and I paid the price.”
It was the first fight back since the shoulder injury which caused him to lose his unbeaten record last year. While Frank said the shoulder was fine physically, he admitted there could have been mental scars remaining from the effects of the injury, and that was the view I had, maybe a slight reluctance to fully commit to his punches. Some of the rounds were incredibly close, and just a few more punches in those rounds and just standing his ground a little more could have seen a different result. The likeable Sheffield native isn’t one to dwell on the past too much. Yes, there was pain and regret, but equally, a desire to come again, and to treat the last fight as a learning experience and ensure the mistakes are not made again going forward:
“I think the tactics were spot on for eight rounds, but then I should have stepped it up. But hindsight is a great thing, we thought we were well up, but it has to be lessons learned. But as much as it hurt me afterwards, and it really did, but it’s not like I have lost heavily, got knocked down and got stopped. All credit to Guarneros, but I think I lost that fight. I don’t want to sound as though I am making excuses, but if I had done a few things differently I would have got the decision without any doubt.”
There is a lingering British title fight with Kyle Yousaf which should have taken place last December, which looks like the immediate goal for Frank. The ‘comeback’ starts next month with a stay busy type of fight, but one that will serve a purpose to build the confidence back up from the recent setbacks. Frank told FightPost he is raring to get back out there:
“I am back out on the 27th August. It will just be a six or an eight-rounder down the bill on a Fightzone show. I am very thankful to Dennis for getting me out again so soon. I am kind of glad it’s a quick turnaround, I just think the sooner the better to get back out there again, shake off those cobwebs and get back to winning ways again, and then fingers crossed we can then finally get the British title fight on.”
Despite the events of the last few months, Frank is extremely positive about his future in boxing. Win or learn gets rolled out too many times, but in this case, it has true meaning. The experience of back-to-back defeats can still propel Frank forward. The two defeats have certainly stalled the progress, but it most certainly doesn’t have to be the final nail in a once-promising career. Frank will return a wiser and stronger fighter, and while the British title will be the short-term goal, the world title ambitions are not yet dead in the water.
Photo Credit: Sporting Captures