Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Boxing

Barry McGuigan: Conrad Cummings has same desire I had to reach the top

McGuigan sees glimpses of himself in ambitious Cummings

By David Kelly

Former World champion Barry McGuigan has expertly guided the career of Carl Frampton and has now handed Conrad Cummings his first opportunity to show the public that he can blossom into a fighter made for the highest level.

Middleweight Cummings has comfortably chalked up seven straight wins in 18 months since signing with McGuigan, whose son Shane coaches the Coalisland man alongside Frampton and exciting unbeaten Belfast super-featherweight Anthony Cacace.

On November 20 at the Waterfront Hall, Cummings steps up to face fellow unbeaten Ulsterman Fredo Meli for the vacant Celtic middleweight title and McGuigan wants him to make a major statement.

The 24-year-old's best work as a professional has been behind closed doors, sparring some of the best in Europe and the world, including WBO middleweight champion Andy Lee and challenger Billy Joe Saunders, who will clash next month.

It is such work that has given McGuigan great encouragement as he seeks to plot a course towards domestic and international honours for Cummings. The clash with Meli is greatly anticipated by local boxing fans - an eye-catching performance would have a wider reaching impact as McGuigan is well aware.

"I know what Conrad can do, I have seen him in with world class fighters, including the World champion, but now he has to transfer that kind of work from the gym to the ring on fight night," said McGuigan.

"Boxing has had many fighters who have always looked good in the gym but then when it came to the fight they couldn't reproduce the same form and also you have some guys who don't work that great in the gym but are a different fighter in the ring. I am confident that Conrad will rise to the occasion and show his true worth.

"He has been given the chance to stand alone and be the headline act and with that can come some pressure, which some fighters find hard to handle, but I am certain that Conrad will love it. He doesn't want to play second fiddle, he wants to be the main man, to be a big time fighter.

"When I look at him in the gym and how he goes about his work, he reminds me of myself in that he has that intensity, he has that desire that I had to make it to the very top. He gives that little bit extra in the gym every day and that means an awful lot.

"You must have that desire and work ethic to get to the top and when Conrad gets into the ring he is relentless… if there was a gold medal for desire and ambition Conrad would get it."

An aggressive fighter, coach Shane McGuigan has been polishing up Cummings' boxing ability without diminishing his natural desire to fight on the front foot.

Meli will bring similar passion for a toe-to-toe dust-up, which is why Barry feels it could be "one of the small hall fights of the year".

For the winner, a shot at the British middleweight title would automatically come into focus by virtue of lifting the Celtic belt and the victor in next month's clash between Chris Eubank jnr and Gary Spike Sullivan, who went the distance with Saunders, would also become a target.

"Meli is going to test Conrad, he feels confident and he's a high volume puncher but, for me, I just think Conrad will be too strong in the end - but it's going to be a great fight and I want to see Conrad at his best," added McGuigan, whose show also features Marc McCullough.

"He has a very bright future and a really good win over Meli and he will show everyone that he is going to be in the mix with people like Eubank jnr in 2016.

"It's going to be a big night for Conrad, he couldn't be in better shape and I believe he will deliver."

Tickets for the Cyclone Promotions show, 'ALL ON THE LINE' are available from the Waterfront Box Office: 02890334455 or at www.cyclonepromotions.com.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph