ANDY Lee recently recalled his earliest memories of the Repton Boxing Club in London.
Lee watched his older brothers train and ‘fantasised’ about when it would be his turn.
The Lee boys were cut from tough stone.
“I was considered the less talented one of the family – I was the short, fat kid,” Andy remembered.
“The others were technical, stylish boxers and I was like a bruiser; just get stuck in and have a go. I don’t think there was much hope for me.”
In 2014, Lee, who is now training Donegal middleweight hopeful Jason Quigley, stopped Matt Korobov to win the WBO world middleweight title. The ‘short, fat kid’ who learned to trade in Repton became an Irish boxing icon.
Twelve years ago, Brett McGinty first darkened the doors of the Oakleaf Boxing Club in Derry. When McGinty crossed the threshold of the club’s base at the Brandywell, there was little hope in the air. He was a young footballer looking to sharpen up.
In the spring of 2010, McGinty defeated Colm Quinn from Castlebar in the Irish Boy 1 46kgs final – the first of eight Irish titles he would win.
The St Johnston man takes on Jordan Grannum at the Skydome in Coventry tomorrow night in his second bout as a professional boxer.
When McGinty signed with Sheer Sports Management in 2019, he echoed the memory of Lee when he said: “From the chubby 10-year-old walking into Oakleaf boxing club I am very grateful for the fighter they have made me into today.”
McGinty, who is trained in Manchester by former wold had to endure a long wait for his pro debut, defeating Jan Ardon over six rounds.
From the early days at Oakleaf, it was evident that McGinty was destined for the pro ranks
“If you’re fighting somebody who’s boxing and moving, three rounds isn’t very long,” he said this week.
“I was always very aggressive and I was always trying to cut my opponents down, even in the Schoolboys and in the Youths and then, obviously, in the Seniors. I was always running out of time, almost. So, in some fights, I could have been two rounds down going into the third round, absolutely dominate the third, but sometimes it turned out not to be enough.
“So, for me, it was always, ‘try to cut them down, get inside, do the work’ and have my success that way. But I always knew turning pro, the minimum is four rounds, and as I progress through my career, the fights will get longer. So, I knew from an early age that the pro game was for me and that my style would suit it.
“Coming from amateur, where you’re fighting competitively and in top competitions all the time, it is slightly different. Even my debut, it was planned to go four rounds and it turned out to be six.
“For me to now go back to four, I was maybe looking at that as a step back. But Ricky was explaining to me I’m only 22. There is no rush. There is no point progressing things faster than I need to. It is hard sometimes. There is a buzz when you’re fighting, there is a buzz right now.
“I don’t want to let go of that. But I’m still a novice to the pro ranks. This is all new to me. I just need to slow myself down and learn as I go along. There will come a time when I’m going to have to take a proper step up. This is all about the learning and putting it all into a big fight.”
Hatton has spoken of his excitement by McGinty’s promise and promoter Mick Hennessy has his fight on Channel 5 tomorrow night as part of a card headlined by Sam Eggington and Carlos Molina for the Vacant WBC Silver Middleweight Championship.
Grannum suffered his only stoppage defeat in 73 losses at the hands of Monaghan’s unbeaten Aaron McKenna in December.
McGinty said: “He’s a very durable opponent. He’s very experienced. He’s someone who has been around the block. He knows his way around the ring.
“There are probably very few things that I could bring that he hasn’t seen already. It’s going to be a tough night for me. It’s not about this fight or the next fight. It’s about the next year or the next two years. We’re just building all the time.
“I had a tough debut fight and got through that with a win. Hopefully I’ll do the same and build on the improvements I’m making in the gym.
“It’s an opportunity to show the things I’m learning. I’m still a novice in my pro career. I’m learning all the time and learning every fight. It’s a fight to try the new things. It’s up to me to implement the things in the fight. That’s what I’m training to do.”
After having to wait 19 months for his debut, McGinty could be forgiven for feeling in a hurry now.
But the 22-year-old knows that he has to stay patient.
“I’m definitely more relaxed coming into this fight,” he said.
“I had pro debut nerves for the last fight. I don’t have that now. I had 19 months, a long time, out of the ring. I have the debut out of the way now. I feel more comfortable for this fight. Maybe it’s an opportunity to enjoy it a bit more, but ultimately I need to go in there and implement the things I’ve been learning. I do plan to do that.Tags: