Tommy Frank: becoming Sheffield’s first British flyweight champion ‘best night of my life’

Sheffield’s Tommy Frank is on cloud nine after becoming British flyweight champion on what he described as ‘the best night of my life’.

Thursday, 23rd September 2021, 8:24 am

The Intake fighter outclassed a spirited Matt Windle over 12 rounds for a comfortable points win at Ponds Forge on Saturday evening to bounce back from two consecutive defeats in style and save his career in the process.

He also became the first-ever British flyweight champion from the Steel City when the prestigious Londsale Belt was wrapped around his waist.

“I have just been in a bit of a bubble,” he said. “It’s been absolutely fantastic.

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And the new: Tommy Frank gets his arm raised. Photo: Errol Edwards.

"I have just been taking this lovely new belt I have got around to see everyone, it’s brilliant.

"My feet haven’t touched the ground.

"You don’t realise how prestigious these belts are, they started making them in 1909. I’m very proud of it.”

Frank, aged 28, might have stopped his friend and former sparring partner before the final bell after sending him to the canvas in round two with a straight right hand and finishing the fight strong, but a fourth career knockout proved elusive.

Tommy recovered from open heart surgery at the age of just five.

"I’m kind of glad Matt saw the final bell because he was so tough,” he added.

"I hurt him a number of times and he kept fighting back.”

Glyn Rhodes-trained Frank has needed the same battling qualities to rise to the top of the British ranks after recovering from open heart surgery to repair a hole in his heart at the age of just five.

His promising boxing career also suffered a setback when he was beaten twice in his last two bouts by Mexican Rosendo Hugo Guarneros, which not only cost him the IBF inter-continental flyweight title and his unbeaten record, but put back his ambitions at world level.

Matt Windle takes another one on the chin. Photo: Errol Edwards.

“I’m dedicating the fight and this win to my fiance (Charley), my family and my fiance’s family,” he said.

"I have got the best family unit around me, especially after the last couple of fights when I wasn’t exactly on highs.

"I asked myself a few questions and without them it would have been a very lonely place for me. They got me through it.”

Frank admits self-doubt crept in during the build-up to Saturday, which he described as ‘must-win’.

He said: “You try to put it out of your mind because you are tying to think positive thoughts but we are all human.

"Every now and again you get a negative thought, thinking ‘I really, really can’t afford to lose this fight’.

"I had to win on Saturday to keep my boxing career going. It would be really hard to come back from three back-to-back defeats."

Despite the weight of the occasion, there were no signs of nerves...on the outside at least.

"On the inside you are screaming inside,” Frank continued.

"Of course you are nervous, your knees are knocking together. Every fighter, if he’s truly honest, will tell you on the inside it’s absolute chaos.

"You have got all sorts of thoughts going through your head.”

And now the dust has settled, how does it feel?

"One-hundred per cent, it was the best night of my life,” Frank declared.

"I could try to put it into words but I don’t think it’s sunk in yet.

"Whoever thought seeing my in hospital when I was five after just having heart surgery that I would one day have a Lonsdale Belt?

"I’m proof that if you have made a full recovery there’s nothing stopping you from still going on and achieving what you want, not just in sport but life in general.”

So what next for the role model turned history-maker?

"I would love to be out before the end of the year,” he said.

"I’m not a playboy, I don’t have a fight then go missing for weeks and weeks.

"I was back in the gym on Monday.”