Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

Boxing: McKay's walking a Rocky road

In just about every way possible Jason McKay is the outsider tomorrow night in Dublin's National Stadium.

Andy Lee is seen as another golden boy of Irish boxing, being groomed for superstardom by top coach Emanuel Steward, who has a promotional agreement with Irish promoter Brian Peters.

Plans are in place for Lee to take the Emerald Isle by storm with a series of fights in 2008. In contrast, McKay expects to be pushed to the fringes once again.

Despite a record of 18 wins and a solitary defeat - which was a travesty - McKay has remained outside the loop of championship opportunities, until now.

"He's the chairman of the who needs him club," says promoter Peters who has handed him his chance tomorrow evening against Lee when they clash for the Irish super-middleweight title.

The contrast with Lee's rise through the world rankings in little more than 18 months is quite remarkable.

While Lee is the talk of America, focusing fully on his career, boxing on major world title shows and having his every need met, McKay continues to work full-time in the Tayto factory as a machine operator and trains at night in Breen's Gym.

"I think the only people who want me to win is the people in my corner. The television, the promoter, they're all behind Lee," says McKay.

"But sure they said that about Rocky! Seriously, though, I know that everyone sees this as the Andy Lee show and he is expected to just turn up and win but he's in for a shock.

"I saw him fight in the Olympics against a guy from Cameroon who should never have beaten him but he did because he kept the pressure on him and Lee didn't want to know.

"I've waited all my career for this chance and just a few months ago I thought about packing it in because nothing was happening so I'm glad that Andy has taken the fight because John Duddy and Matthew Macklin have been avoiding me.

"All the pressure is on Andy and there's nothing on me. I have nothing to lose and everything to gain because if I win this fight then the doors will open to a British or even a European or Commonwealth title fight."

Promoter Peters has said that he could have given McKay a shot at Commonwealth middleweight champion Darren Barker in January but then the Lee opportunity presented itself.

Married to Shauna with two children Brody and Olivia, McKay has responsibilities that Lee doesn't have to consider and hence he will have only today off to rest up for the chance of his life.

"It's bit like the way things used to be for fighters years ago but I couldn't afford to stop working. Anyway, I've prepared very hard and I'm ready.

"I've never been so pumped up for a fight in my life and after Saturday night Andy Lee is going to known that he's been in a real fight for the first time in his career.

"He's been very well protected, he's had handpicked opponents - even one of his opponents was a welterweight who Stephen Haughian beat two fights ago. I think they've underestimated me and that suits me fine. It's the first time in my career there has been a build-up like this. It's a big fight and I believe it's my time."

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