Sheffield’s Tommy Frank eyes up British title shot before end of 'nightmare' year
Things could have been much different for Sheffield flyweight Tommy Frank.
In February 2020 the Intake fighter (13-2, three knockouts), then unbeaten, was presented with “the opportunity of a lifetime” to fight for a world title after just 13 professional bouts.
The rising star’s progress was made all the more impressive when taking into account the adversity he’d overcome to make it as a professional sportsman after recovering from open-heart surgery aged five.
The coronavirus pandemic put paid to his chances of becoming world champion, however. And what happened next has been a “nightmare”, in the 28-year-old’s words.
He was set to fight fellow Steel City boxer Kyle Yousaf (16-0) in Sheffield for the British flyweight title in November 2020 before his would-be opponent tested positive for Covid-19.
Frank’s promoter Dennis Hobson was unable to agree terms with Yousaf’s initial replacement, Harvey Horn, before Mexican Rosendo Hugo Guarneros stepped in.
But with his IBF inter-continental flyweight title on the line, 28-year-old Frank was forced to retire after round eight in their December 2020 contest due to a shoulder injury sustained in the third round which left him unable to throw punches with his stronger arm.
A six-month-long rehabilitation process followed before a rematch with Guarneros in June, which ended in a split-decision in favour of the South American.
Now the man from Sheffield Boxing Centre has been left contemplating what might have been.
"Everything was set up for me to take some revenge, put the record straight and get a world ranking,” he tells The Star.
"It was just a bit of a miscalculation on the night with how me, Glyn [Rhodes, head trainer] and the corner were looking at the fight and how the judges were scoring.
Frank did well to dodge Guarneros’ relentless attacks, but accepted his elusiveness came at the expense of not landing enough punches of his own.
“It wasn’t like I had emptied my tank and I had given everything,” he added, “thinking we had the rounds in the bank we didn’t feel we needed to do that.
"I learnt a valuable lesson: at this level, even if you think you are in front, there can’t be any doubt.”
The process of picking up the pieces will begin on 27 August with a six-round contest at Ponds Forge.
Frank’s stablemate Kane Salvin will also be in action on the night when he defends his central area super featherweight title.
"I’m a very positive person," Frank says, “I try to look at challenges as just that.”
“After the last fight the decision really hurt me, I didn’t really want to think about boxing for a couple of days. But I felt something click inside me, it’s ignited a fire.
"It’s unearthed something in me what’s really going to drive me now and make me better than ever.
"A nightmare first six months of the year could ultimately shape the best next six months of my life and career.”
Frank is grateful to have not fallen into the trap of becoming the forgotten man following a defeat – and wants to see the year out in style by boxing for the British title.
Should he get the chance, it won’t be the first time he’s successfully fought back from hard times.