Brian Magee: I'm the man to help take big Mac to title
Brian Magee knows all about boxing at the highest level and he is determined to play a key role in guiding unbeaten cruiserweight Tommy McCarthy to the top of the sport.
Former World super-middleweight champion Magee was in McCarthy's corner for the first time last weekend when the Belfast man chalked up his seventh straight win and the 25-year-old is immediately back into action this Saturday night in Blackpool.
McCarthy, who competed at heavyweight as an amateur, has teamed up with Magee who since hanging up his gloves has opened a highly successful gym and his fitness expertise is now also being utilised by the Antrim GAA side.
Last Saturday night in Surrey, before a crowd which included newly-crowned World heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, McCarthy went the distance over six rounds and while Magee was pleased with his performance he is expecting the level to be increased with every display with Celtic and British title shots mooted for 2016.
"So far things have been going very well with myself and Tommy, he has been working very hard in the gym. All round he has been making improvements since the previous fight at Falls Park in the summer and we saw some of those last Saturday night against the Hungarian (Martin Szatmari)," said Magee.
"Tommy might have been a little frustrated that the fight went the distance but I was very happy with the six rounds he got in and I liked the fact that in the sixth round he was still pushing the guy back.
"I wanted to see him take his time and box a bit more and he did. Tommy learned really good fundamentals from his amateur coach Patsy McAllister from the age of nine in the Oliver Plunkett gym and they have stood him in good stead.
"It's my job to build on that over the coming months and years - it's a long journey and everyone needs to be patient because Tommy's only had seven fights.
"I know he wants to be pushing on towards a British title shot but we have to make sure the timing is right for that kind of fight. I always think the big men mature late and Tommy's body is still maturing.
"I learned a lot from Bernardo Checa when he was coaching me late in my career... the Panamanian way of fighting is different. Even going over there to train helped me a lot - just how they do things and the way they look to get fighters to have power in the punches.
"I also had the experience of being in the Lennox Lewis camp during my career, that was great - it's only when you stop and look back that you realise how much experience you have gained and the knowledge that can be passed on.
"It would be very easy to overload Tommy so I have to rein myself in a little because we have to take things step by step but I do expect in time that Tommy will be hitting with double the power."
As for two fights in seven days, a rare occurrence these days, Magee believes it is the right move for McCarthy at this stage of his career.
"I'm glad that he has this second fight coming up so soon because it means that with eight wins behind him he goes into 2016 with a European ranking," added Magee.
"I have told Tommy to think of the last fight as his last hard spar and this as the fight so he's got himself quickly back into fight mode and I hope to see another good performance."
Tyson Fury has been stripped of his IBF world heavyweight title after refusing a mandatory defence.
Fury beat Ukraine's Wladimir Klitschko in Dusseldorf on November 29 to win the WBA, WBO and IBF titles. But he has lost the latter after signing up for a rematch with Klitschko rather than a bout against the IBF's mandatory challenger.
Lindsey Tucker, championships chairman at the IBF, said: "It's true he's been stripped of his IBF belt.
"Our challenger was Vyacheslav Glazkov, but instead Fury's gone and signed a rematch clause with Wladimir Klitschko," Tucker added.
Klitschko took up the rematch available under a clause in the contract for their original fight, won by Fury in a unanimous points decision.
That left fellow Ukrainian Glazkov out in the cold and Fury (27) facing the loss of one of his three belts.