Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Barry McGuigan's boy in spotlight

Shane McGuigan gets ready for his debut in the Ulster seniors tonight
Shane McGuigan gets ready for his debut in the Ulster seniors tonight

Barry McGuigan will tonight recall where his success story all began.

The former World featherweight champion will be in the corner of son Shane as he starts his campaign to claim the welterweight title in the VIS Ulster senior championships in Belfast's Dockers Club.

In 1978, McGuigan landed the Ulster bantamweight title with an upset stoppage of Sean Russell and would go on to claim a Commonwealth Games gold medal.

Thirty years on he's hoping Shane can take the first step along the path to the Ulster senior title and, long-term, the possibility of representing Northern Ireland at the Commonwealth Games in 2010 in India.

"I remember my first seniors very well. I boxed Noel Reynolds from Lisburn, who was a really tough guy ... we're very good friends now. And I beat Sean Russell in the final, which was an upset," says Barry.

An upset indeed and fellow '78 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Gerry Hamill remembers sitting alongside Russell and watching McGuigan's clash with Reynolds in the semi-finals.

"Seanie was boxing for the same club as me and we watched Barry and the one thing that struck us right away was his strength and just how hard he could hit," said Hamill.

"It was hard at first to believe that he was what everyone said he was because to me he was just a kid but he was so determined and so strong.

"And you could never sicken him of boxing. Even when we went downtown in Edmonton during the Commonwealth Games for a bit of shopping he would be shadow boxing in front of the windows."

McGuigan also lapped up the publicity that quickly surrounded him as he rose to the top in the professional ranks, though son Shane is happy to stay out of the limelight. No interviews were on offer at Saturday's weigh-in.

"He doesn't like it but it's impossible to shield him from it. When he boxed at the National championships there was a lot of attention," adds McGuigan snr.

While the expectations are all on young McGuigan, 20-year-old Terence Garland from Holy Trinity is aiming for a shock victory.

Garland said: "I don't care about all the publicity surrounding the fight. I've got a gameplan and I'm confident that I can win it."

The welterweight division is certainly one of the most open in this year's championships and, having won the National novice senior title, McGuigan is expected to be a title threat.

Tonight we should learn a little bit more.

The fight of the night, though, may well come at featherweight when Gleann's Paul Hyland clashes with Marc McCullough of Cairnlodge.

"I'm up at featherweight and I think I've naturally developed into the weight," said McCullough, who won the Irish under-21 final at bantamweight before Christmas and lost to Ryan Lindberg in last year's Ulster senior final.

"I think I can go one better this year but it's a very tough division. Against Lindberg I just tired."

Tonight's contests:

69kg prelim: Cathal McCauley (Dungloe) v Michael Bustard (Monkstown).

Quarter-finals: 51kg: Tommy Long (Oakleaf) v Chris Rice (Immaculata).

57kg: Paul Hyland (Gleann) v Marc McCullough (Cairnlodge); Eamonn Finnegan (Oliver Plunkett) v Tyrone McKenna (Oliver Plunkett).

60kg: Mark Ginley (Oliver Plunkett) v Sonny Upton (Holy Family); Barry McCafferty (SJB Belfast) v Donall Burns (Gleann).

64kg: Michael McLaughlin (Carndonagh) v Kevin Doherty (Ring); Patrick Murphy (S.Heart Newry) v Shaun McShane (Dungloe).

69kg: William McLaughlin (Illies) v James Ferrin (Holy Family); Terence Garland (Holy Trinity) v Shane McGuigan (Clones).

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