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Tommy McCarthy ready to fight for European title in Eddie Hearn's garden show

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Tommy McCarthy

Tommy McCarthy

Tommy McCarthy

Tommy McCarthy is relishing his return to the ring - particularly if it happens to be in promoter Eddie Hearn's back garden.

Matchroom boxing supremo Hearn has laid elaborate plans to stage a series of four shows in August at his mansion to be screened on Sky Sports with each bill having five bouts, in line with British Boxing Board of Control regulations due to the coronavirus.

WBC international champion McCarthy, in line to fight for the vacant European cruiserweight title, is one of those being lined up to be part of the unique experience and the Belfast man has consequently been raising the intensity of his training as best he can, given the lockdown circumstances.

"I don't want to be taking any warm-up fights, I want to dive straight back in to a big fight and fighting in Eddie Hearn's garden would be something else. I think it's a great idea and I just want a date," said McCarthy, who is managed by local man Mark Dunlop and promoted by Hearn.

"Credit to Hearn for coming up with the idea at this tough time. The fact that fights will have no fans there is not a problem. Coming through the amateur ranks you fight loads of times without any supporters. To be honest I think guys might even perform better because there will be less pressure - it will be a bit like a gym session.

"Winning the European title would be great for my career, it's still such a prestigious title and gets you a world ranking with every world governing body. To win it in Eddie's back garden would be something to look back on - it would be part of boxing history that people would be talking about for years.

"When this lockdown started my weight did balloon up but in recent weeks I've been working hard, going for 5km runs as well as working on my strength and conditioning with my cousin through Zoom. I've also been in regular contact with my coach Pete Taylor who has been giving us drills to work on - defensive and offensive moves."

With his fitness at a good level, the 29-year-old says he will be ready when the call comes to return to coach Taylor's gym in Dublin, where he trains alongside WBC international light-welter champion Tyrone McKenna, Tyrone McCullagh and Irish lightweight champion Gary Cully.

As well as the physical work-outs, McCarthy says he has been particularly enjoying the Netflix hit 'The Last Dance', which chronicles the incredible success of basketball superstar Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s when they lifted six NBA titles.

"When you watch that documentary on Jordan you see how he had a different mindset and that set him apart. I loved the fact that he was just a normal guy, he wasn't a robot - he knew when he had to work but also enjoyed his time away from the court. Personally, I find him a real inspiration and I know I can learn from his approach to get the very best out of myself," added McCarthy.

"The way he drove on his team-mates actually reminded me of Paddy Barnes when we were all in the High Performance set-up in Dublin - he used to have a go at me all the time making wee remarks like 'how can you be tired?' But it made me want to be better, it worked.

"In our team at Pete Taylor's gym there's a good vibe. We've all won titles.

"If there's someone who has the same intensity as Jordan in our gym it's Gary Cully - he never drops his level of intensity. I'm the captain of the team though but more like a Scottie Pippen type.

"Tyrone McKenna is our Dennis Rodman - he's just totally like Rodman - and of course Pete is our Phil Jackson!"

Belfast Telegraph