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McGuigan’s eye on the big stage

By David Kelly

From the moment he walked up to his dad and told him he wanted to box, Shane McGuigan knew the road would be hard.

One wonders if he knew just how hard but tomorrow night he continues along his sharp learning curve when he meets Christy Boyle of Dunfanaghy in the semi-finals of the Irish under-21 championships.

Shane, blessed with the strength and desire of his former world champion dad Barry, has not only had to deal with those in the ring but sadly some who are quick to snipe from the sidelines.

This was the case when at the first attempt he won the Ulster senior welterweight title earlier this year. The decision over Cathal McCauley was greeted with a chorus of boos from many influenced by the green-eyed monster of jealousy.

Barry probably felt it more than Shane who carries himself in a dignified manner and is zoned in on developing into a force on the international stage, despite having only 19 fights (one defeat) on his amateur card - a quarter of the contests enjoyed by most boxers at this stage of their career.

Competing in these championships is further fast-track preparation for the Irish seniors and the defence of his Ulster welterweight title as he plans for a big year in 2009, with the Commonwealth Games a year later on the horizon.

“Obviously I have to perform on the domestic scene and prove myself but the international stage is where I want to be. I love challenges and I believe the better fighter I box the better I am,” said Shane. “I want to test myself in internationals and in 2009 I hope to go up a level and if the opportunity comes I’d love to go to the Commonwealth Games.”

The opening contest of the championships saw Shane take on Donegal man Martin Lynch and despite trailing by four points going into the last two minutes he showed the strength and character to roar back and win by a point - with many feeling it could have been a wider margin of victory.

Tomorrow night Shane will seek to make that pressure tell in order to set up a final against either Conor Coyle or John Joe Joyce.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph