Carl Frampton can scale new heights says Brian Magee
Brian Magee knows how difficult making weight can be. The former WBA World super middleweight title looked back on his years of sacrifice with Andy Watters…
ROAST beef and spuds, apple crumble and custard. Roast beef and spuds, apple crumble and custard. Roast beef and spuds, apple crumble and custard…
Brian Magee loves Sunday dinners and he could see steaming plates of tasty, grub dripping with gravy passing before his eyes as he trained or as he lay in bed or watched the telly or drove his car.
He could almost smell it, almost taste it; but when he was in training camp Sunday dinners were off the menu.
The sacrifice and discipline required to purge the body of fat is part and parcel of a fighter’s life and if they don’t get it right they’re in big trouble – fail to prepare, prepare to fail.
They say Scott Quigg could go for a kebab and a beer after a five-course slap-up dinner and wouldn’t put on an ounce. If that’s true then he’s the exception.
Brian Magee isn’t built like that. He had to get down to 12 stones to fight as a super-middleweight and his ‘walking weight’ was at least 13 and-a-half stone.
“It was very, very tough. I’m walking around now and I’m 15 and-a-half stone,” said Magee.
“When I was fighting I had to take off two and-a-half stone one time when I came back from holidays, but on average I’d be taking off a stone and-a-half.
“You’re trying to keep on as much muscle as you can and still have the energy to do 12 rounds. It’s just one of those things you have to do in boxing – it’s not healthy, it’s not good for you – but it’s what you have to do if you’re stuck for weight.
“Towards the end of my career I was making the weight easier because I was watching it from further out and that’s the key – make your weight further out from the fight.
“You get down as close as you can and when you have that last bit to go it’s easier to sweat off you. You are risking weakening yourself and leaving it (all the training) in the gym if you’re having weight trouble.”
Magee stands six foot tall and liked to switch off and chow down after a fight. After all those weeks of training and denial he worked his way through a fair few plates of spuds and he paid the price when he lost his IBO title to Robin Reid at the Kings Hall in 2004.
“You need a bit of time off, but it was tough getting back (down to weight) again,” he said.
“You’re just constantly in a calorie deficit to burn the calories off you so you’re never satisfied, you’ve always got a wee craving for something.
“I was always craving Sunday dinners, I’m always a big fan of sitting down and having a big, giant Sunday dinner and then a big dessert like apple crumble and custard or something. I just like home cooking - the good stuff.
“When I fought Reid I was making the weight easy and training was brilliant about four weeks before fight.
“Because I was making it so easy I went and had my big dinners every day and next thing I had trouble making the weight and that’s what lost me the fight.
“Come the weigh-in I had too much weight to take off. I remember walking up the stairs to the weigh-in and I near fainted.
“I had no energy… I was just totally drained. I forgot something in my room and I had to run up the steps in the lobby and I got all light-headed at the top of the stairs. I went ‘oh my God’ and I remember at three o’clock the next days thinking ‘I’m going to the venue in three hours and I’m feeling wrecked’.
“I was dreading going to the fight but you just put yourself through it. I got put down early because your punch resistance and everything goes and four rounds in I was wrecked.
“He (Reid) was feeling good and bombing on, but everything I did was a struggle – it’s hard to explain but boxing is the hardest place to be when you’re like that.
“Take cyclists some days in the mountains they haven’t got the energy to go up a hill but it’s more of a mental battle – when you’ve got somebody coming at you and trying to hit you and beat you up it’s a lot more tough than on your bike.
“When you have to grind through it on the night of a big fight it’s a tough, tough night’s work.”
We’ve all heard about fighters skipping in sauna suits on the day of a weigh-in to make the weight. But, as Magee explains, getting those scales to give the right reading can come at a high price
“You just have to empty your body of water,” he said.
“You’ve only got 24-30 hours from the weigh-in until you’re back in the ring again so if you use up too much energy and take too much out of yourself getting that weight off…
“You can’t get the fluid into your body or the food ingested into your body quick enough in 24 hours to get back to full strength. You might be OK for the first three or four rounds but come the later rounds you’ll pay a price if you haven’t made the weight well. You won’t have the energy; you won’t have the strength and all the training you did will be wasted.
“You can train all you like, the camp can go brilliant but if you mess up with the weight then everything is out the window.”
Trainers and boxers at Holy Trinity Boxing Club in west Belfast give their verdict on the outcome of the fight:
Brian Magee verdict
BRIAN Magee is tipping Frampton to win on Saturday night and he is confident that ‘the Jackal’ will have learned from his weight problems in Texas last time out.
Frampton admitted he drank too much water in the days before his El Paso rumble with Alejandro Gonzalez jnr in June 2015 and Magee feels he won’t make that mistake again.
“Carl should be feeling good,” he said.
“He struggled the last time but this time you should see the Frampton we’re used to.
“Even at that I still think he’s very critical of himself, I still think he finished the fight well (in Texas). It wasn’t all bad, I still thought it was a good performance from him – alright he got put down twice but he finished the fight strong.
“If that was him feeling bad you know he’ll be twice the fighter when he’s feeling good.”
A fully fit Frampton beats a fully fit Quigg according to Magee, but he rates the Bury fighter as the toughest opponent of Frampton’s career so far.
“Quigg is definitely the best opponent he has ever fought and he’s the toughest,” he said.
“I think the key for Frampton will be his accuracy. When Quigg lets them go he leaves himself open so Frampton needs to be patient in the fight and let him try to throw his bombs and get him when he leaves himself open.
“I think that’ll be the key for him and it’ll not go the distance if he does that.
“But if he lets himself get drawn in and goes toe-to-toe with Quigg then he could find himself in trouble: it’s 50-50 who wins there and Quigg has as good a chance as Frampton.
“He’ll have to patient with his shots and just keep chipping away and take Quigg apart. After a couple of rounds he’ll find openings in Quigg. Quigg will go for Frampton and leave himself open and Frampton will find openings if he takes his time.
“It has all the makings of a cracking fight and I think Quigg is a step up from anybody Frampton has fought.”