Boxing

Class of 2015 is aiming to put Frampton's record in shade

James McGivern (above and below) trains at Jordanstown before Northern Ireland's Commonwealth Youth Games team flew out to Australia for a training camp
Picture: Hugh Russell
Neil Loughran

CARL FRAMPTON picked up a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Youth Games in 2004 – but the current crop of bright young things from the North have only gold in their sights.

‘The Jackal’ lost out to Scotland’s Jason Hastie at the semi-final stage in the Australian city of Bendigo 11 years ago, but the IBF super-bantamweight champion has since gone on to conquer the professional world.

At the same Games, England’s James DeGale won gold. He is now a middleweight world champion, and another James gearing up for the first bell this weekend is hoping to make a similar impact.

James McGivern, Team NI’s bantamweight pick, is a slick counter-puncher – just like DeGale.

And, with the opening ceremony taking place today, the St George’s stylist believes he has the tools to go all the way in the Samoan capital Apia.

“I feel that on my day I can compete with anyone,” said the 17-year-old, who has been training with the rest of his team-mates at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra for the past fortnight.

“I’ve been at the Europeans three times, I’ll be going againt later this year to Poland [European Youth Championships]. I’ve been all around the world in the last few years, but this is the biggest yet.

“We’re all looking at the Commonwealth Games in 2018. Hopefully this will be preparation for that.

“You saw the buzz in Glasgow last year, and how well the team did under John [Conlan]. That would be an amazing experience.

“After that, like everybody else around my age, the aim is the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. That’s what I feel I’m working towards.”

After defeating team-mate Tiernan Bradley in the national U18s final, McGivern was guaranteed the 56kg spot.

There is no hint of awkwardness between the pair – Bradley got the nod at 60kg, and they sparred countless rounds during a two week training camp in Russia in July.

And the teenager feels he has really flourished under the watchful eye of the Irish Amateur Boxing Association’s man in Ulster, High Performance coach John Conlan.

“I’ve been on the Irish team for four or five years now, but working with John is a massive step up,” he said.

“This is my first year working with him in Jordanstown and the whole set up here is miles better than Dublin.

“Scientifically, the testing and all is top class. There’s nutritionists, physios, strength and conditioning coaches, and John obviously is a top class coach himself.”

In terms of McGivern’s approach going into these Games, Conlan has attempted to make a few tweaks here and there.

“I’ve always been a counter-puncher, but John’s trying to make me more aggressive because with the new scoring system, you have to be seen to be trying to win the fight.

“It’s worked. I notice myself going forward, being more aggressive, but I’m still balancing it with the counter-punching as well.”

An impromptu spar with Conlan’s son, Olympic bronze medallist Michael, gave McGivern an indication of how far he had come.

Conlan, one of the favourites for bantamweight gold in Rio next summer, was suitably impressed, and has tipped the teenager for big things.

“Unbelievable,” says McGivern.

“Even being able to tell people I was in the ring with him was class. It’s great being able to test yourself, technically, against boys like that. I’m sure the likes of that experience will stand to me.”

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