Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Brian Magee’s men plot shot at world title

Brian Magee

Throughout his professional career, one thing has been constant in the life of Brian Magee and that is the guidance of Pat Magee and John Rooney for whom tomorrow night is another critical step towards the realisation of a dream.

Whenever the first bell sounds for Magee's showdown with Jaime Barboza in Costa Rica tomorrow night co-managers Magee (who is no relation) and Rooney will have the usual nerves but also a sense of achievement, having guided the 35-year-old through the highs and lows and ultimately to the brink of another shot at a world title.

“When we started out with Brian we didn't think we could get to this point, fighting Lucien Bute and now this fight which can lead to a WBA title shot,” says Magee, who like Rooney has been a fan of the Noble Art from childhood.

Together they carefully manoeuvred Magee to the IBO super-middleweight title in 2001 and a number of King's Hall fights before defeat to Robin Reid and further losses seemed to leave the Belfast man's career slipping away.

Then revived by winning the British title, he was forced to wait 12 months before boxing and winning the European title, ultimately leading to the clash with Bute, which he lost in the tenth round.

“It's been a tough road, it's been a lifetime's work and I've got to say that whenever Brian retires I'm retired. I want to sit at the ringside and enjoy it. The boxing business is harder than any other business I've been involved in,” says Magee, whose friendship with Rooney happened by chance at the annual Ulster senior championships in the Ulster Hall 40 years ago through mutual friends. Their partnership in guiding Magee has lasted 12 years.

It is a loyalty that is rare in boxing. “I think we always put the boxer first.. we have no other agenda other than Brian Magee.

“We were not looking to have a stable of fighters, whatever we did we did in Brian's interests,” says Magee, while Rooney interjects with, “We didn't have to pay mortgages through Brian. Other people get boxers and they start living off the back of them.”

Manager Magee also feels their success has been down to keeping a certain degree of independence, working their own way through boxing's political minefield.

“There comes a stage when you have to give away independence but only when it is right,” he said.

“But it can be a very frustrating business, the most frustrating I've ever been in because everybody's an expert.

“Everybody's an expert at being a trainer, a manager a promoter, a PRO, a sponsor —you never meet anybody who says ‘sorry that's not my side of the business'.”

Tomorrow night Magee and Rooney are hoping they will be leaving town with the WBA Interim title and a ticket to another world title shot.

Meanwhile, promoter Mick Hennessy has stated categorically that, contrary to internet rumours, Tyson Fury's first defence of the British and Commonwealth heavyweight title will not be on September 10 at the Odyssey.

“I don't how that got out there but Tyson Fury is not on that show and frankly Tyson is the biggest star in Irish boxing and will be headlining his own show in Belfast very shortly,” said Hennessy.