Michael Conlan and Andy Lee follow in the footsteps of the late, great Jimmy McLarnin
ALMOST 80 years ago, Jimmy McLarnin thrilled 18,000 at Madison Square Garden on his New York debut when he knocked out Sid Terris a minute and 47 seconds after the first bell had rung in their lightweight contest.
Hillsborough-born McLarnin fought at New York's boxing Mecca 16 times between 1928 and 1936 and was beloved of the crowds before he bowed out with a record of 55-11-3 having won, lost and regained the World Welterweight title and beaten 13 world champions.
Belfast boxing enthusiast Jim Haughey uncovered a copy of Ring Magazine, the 'bible of boxing' from 1928 that devotes more than three pages to “the little socking Irishman”.
In his colourful description of the win against Terris, writer Francis Albertanti reports how Jimmy would “counter a light left hook and then whip over a trip-hammer short right cross that flattened Terris like a pancake”.
Albertanti describes McLarnin, who was raised in Canada, as “a modern Terry McGovern” in reference to the former bantamweight and featherweight world champion who was born in Pennsylvania in 1880 to Irish parents.
McGovern also appeared at an earlier incarnation of Madison Square Garden (the arena has been rebuilt and relocated four times) and tonight Michael Conlan, born and bred just a few miles away from McLarnin's birthplace, becomes the latest fighting Irishman to carry on the tradition and grace the famous stage.
Just 24 hours later, Limerick's Andy Lee returns when the former WBO middleweight champion takes on American KeAndrae Leatherwood over eight rounds in the chief support to the Gennady Golovkin versus Daniel Jacobs title fight.
“It's important that I look good and hopefully I get a knockout, which I've nearly always managed to do at Madison Square Garden,” said Lee ahead of his fourth bout at ‘the Garden' which includes highlight-reel knockouts over Carl Daniels and John Jackson.
“It'll be his first time fighting in a big arena,” he added.
“I've seen some of his fights on YouTube and they look like they're in high school halls or basketball halls on small shows.
“Maybe that'll be a disadvantage to him, but I'm well used to it.”