Tommy McCarthy is facing the biggest fight of his career this Saturday night when he takes on Chris Billam-Smith and he just has to grab it with both hands.
Big Tommy has been waiting all his career for a moment like this. The European, British and Commonwealth cruiserweight titles are on the line and it would be some achievement to win all those belts.
One of my regrets is not to have won the Lonsdale belt. A win in Eddie Hearn’s back garden and Tommy will be fighting for a world title.
In the past, Tommy has been criticised for being too laid-back and early on in his career he paid the price when he lost to Matty Askin — someone who should never have beaten him. But there is no doubt that Tommy has changed and speaking to him recently I could sense a level of confidence that I have never seen before. The confidence is oozing out of him. It’s not arrogance, just a genuine belief that he is going to win this no matter what.
He knows there will be some tough moments, and that applies to both guys, but he is ready to dig deep and bring all that Belfast grit to get the job done against Billam-Smith. For both men there is so much riding on the fight and it would be the biggest win of their respective careers.
Billam-Smith is a good fighter who is heavy-handed and that makes him dangerous but I have to say that he didn’t impress me in his last fight and he was hurt in the one before that against Welshman Nathan Thorley. When it comes to skill level, Tommy is superior and I believe that will be crucial to the outcome. But he also has to show Billam-Smith just how hard he can punch so he will get his respect right away.
Sparring partners will tell you that Tommy can really hit hard but in too many fights he wasn’t really showing it, he was happy at times to just score with his shots. But in his last fight against Romanian Alexandru Jur, we saw a change — Tommy planted his feet and really started to unload power shots and got the job done in six rounds. That showed me how his coach Pete Taylor has been developing him but also the growing confidence that Tommy has in the damage he can do at the top level.
I like the fact that Tommy has been basing himself in Dublin over the past couple of years. It gives him that camp mentality which I feel is so important leading up to big fights.
Being at home, your kids naturally don’t understand the way you have to get yourself into the right mindset and will be asking you to do all sorts of things and that just doesn’t work. Tommy has a young family and he needs to be totally focused on a win that has the potential to set them up for the rest of their lives.
Whoever wins this fight, their stock will rise and it will be a big blow for the one who loses. This is the harsh reality of boxing at the top level. It’s not a last-chance saloon for these guys but it would still be quite a long road back to this point.
If I was a promoter I would want Tommy to win just because he is the more marketable fighter. He can headline in Belfast in a world title shot, he has the personality and ability to put bums on seats and I’ve no doubt he would be a hit in the States as well.
All those doors can open with victory over Billam-Smith and I think Tommy will get the win on points in an exciting 12 rounds.
It looks like Canelo Alvarez will be defending his WBC, WBA and WBO world super-middleweight titles against IBF champion Caleb Plant on September 8 and you have to give the Mexican credit for signing up to another huge night.
There are not too many fighters in recent years who have been prepared to take on champion after champion but Canelo is putting together a CV to match any of the greats of boxing.
The first time I saw Plant he was sparring George Groves in Las Vegas. He was a raw, green professional but he bamboozled Groves and I immediately wanted to know who this guy was.
He looked special and has always been the one guy in the division I thought could give Canelo trouble.
It’s good to see that DAZN and Plant’s backers, PBC, have been able to engage in positive talks to make it happen — the sport needs more of this.
Jermell Charlo and Brian Castano had a controversial draw in their unified world champion light-middleweight title fight last weekend and once again a big night was marred by poor judging.
One judge had it a draw, another had it for Castano by a point but then judge Nelson Vasquez came up with 117-111 for Charlo. That’s nine rounds to three – how on earth can a judge come up with that? He should not judge another world title fight again.
The one positive was Charlo making a statement that he would welcome a rematch with Castano, who I thought had won the fight. Of course, I’ve heard this story before when Leo Santa Cruz promised me a third fight and it never happened. But I hope for Castano’s sake, and the sport of boxing, that the rematch happens.
After a lot of speculation, the fight between Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk is on for September 25 at Tottenham’s stadium and it will be a fascinating battle.
With the Tyson Fury fight falling through, this is as big a fight as Joshua could have had and Usyk, a former undisputed cruiserweight champion, has the skills and ring craft to cause AJ trouble.
Without doubt I would say that Usyk has the higher ring IQ but size matters and my first thoughts are that AJ will simply be too big. Usyk had trouble with Dereck Chisora, who is not at the same level as AJ, so that has to be a warning sign.
But, thankfully, the heavyweight division is moving forward with a quality fight and it should be a special night in September.
The WBO have ordered Terence Crawford to defend his welterweight title against Shawn Porter and that’s just what the champion needed.
Porter doesn’t get the credit he deserves but he’s a rugged, aggressive fighter who will pose problems for Crawford, who is rated in the top five of everyone’s pound for pound list but has a career that doesn’t seem to have really caught fire.
An exciting fight with Porter can change that and I hope that Crawford can then start to be given the acclaim he deserves from more than just hardcore boxing fans.