Boxing

Tommy McCarthy name "in the hat" for world title shot after breakthrough win in Italy

Tommy McCarthy says his name is "in the hat" for a world title shot after his breakthrough win in Italy
Andy Watters

TOMMY McCarthy's name is now “in the hat” for a world title shot after he dethroned previously unbeaten WBC International Cruiserweight champion Fabio Turchi in his own backyard on Friday night.

McCarthy travelled to Trento, Italy as the underdog but he hammered out a deserved win on points with a gutsy display of quality boxing that included power, strength, slick skills on the front and back foot and a tight defence.

“It's definitely the win of my career,” said the Lenadoon native.

“I felt comfortable in the fight, I dug deep when I had to and I used everything that I had to – my boxing skills, my grip, my power… It was a great performance.

“I caught him in the third round and his legs went and in my mind I was thinking: ‘I have him here, I'm gonna stop him early.' But he had a great defence and any time I did catch him he was very disciplined with his defence and it was hard to finish the job.”

The win should do wonders for McCarthy's confidence going forward. Defeats against Matty Askin (in 2016) and Richard Riakporhe (in March) raised questions about his future but manager Mark Dunlop continued to source title opportunities and his faith in ‘Mac Attack' has paid dividends.

“We rolled the dice again and it paid off,” said McCarthy.

“I can't thank Mark Dunlop enough for sticking by me and getting me back into where I should be – in amongst the top in the world.”

Another significant factor in McCarthy's win was his recent link-up with fight guru Pete Taylor. He first met Taylor as a 14-year-old (he is 28 now) when the Dubliner was training his daughter Katie.

“I knew going down to him he would bring the best out of me and he has,” said McCarthy.

“We went away to a lot of camps in 2012 because Katie was getting ready for the OIympics and I was trying to qualify. Over the past eight weeks we clicked straight away, we were just so in tune with each other so it wasn't like he had to get into my head for Friday night. We just gelled perfectly from day one.

“Everyone is saying they can see improvements since I started working with Pete and we've only had one camp,” he added.

“We had eight weeks to get ready for this camp and he made a few subtle adjustments to my boxing style and his gameplan was perfect, his cornermanship was unbelievable. I think he'll guide me to a world title definitely.”

McCarthy intends to take a couple of weeks off now and spend some time with his wife and young family before he turns his attention back to chasing a world title.

“Mark says we're literally a fight or two away from a world title shot,” he said.

“We'll see what happens in the new year but we're definitely not too far away. The WBC title is vacant and now my name is in the hat.”

CONRAD Cummings admitted he feared his career was over after he moved to 17-3-1 with a comfortable points win over Adam Grabiec on Friday night.

Cummings has come through a lot of personal turmoil since in the last couple of years and was delighted to return to form at the Ulster Hall.

“It was a bit surreal,” said Cummings after his win.

“I didn't think this would come, but my supporters are second to none and that was my biggest motivation because I've had my own difficulties.

“I enjoyed that and got the rust off – no pressure. I wanted to show I was in a good place, so everything was a bit more upbeat tonight.

“I knew I was better than him, so I was just stepping back, feinting and got the rust off, but I can push on now. I caught him with a couple of crackers and I did catch him low a few times, but he was milking it.

“All of what's happened has made me a better person. I want to roll the dice again, so let's go.”

JOE Fitzpatrick has his sights set on an Irish title fight after he stopped Iago Barros to win the BUI Celtic lightweight belt on Saturday night.

With Belfast's Fitzpatrick well on top, Spaniard Barros failed to come out for the fifth. He wants to keep busy and maintain his momentum.

“Next up I want the Irish title,” said the Immaculata-trained former Commonwealth Games silver medallist.

“There are a lot of good men out there like Stephen McAfee, Ray Moylette, Gary Cully or Niall O'Connor. I'd fight any of them for the Irish title that has been vacant for a while, so let's get it on.

“I want that title and I know I'd win it because I think I'm the best lightweight in Ireland and none of them would have a chance. I know I'm better than these fighters, so why not box them and get the domestic fights on the go to move up the rankings?”

RUAIRI Dalton is happy to move on quickly after his he got his professional career up-and-running at the Ulster Hall on Friday night.

Dalton, who hadn't boxed competitively since the 2014 Commonwealth Games, returned to action by out-pointing durable Jose Hernandez.

“It felt weird,” he admitted after his win.

“I texted Sean McComb earlier today and had to ask him what he has for a pre-fight meal because I kinda forgot. It was just great to be back in there and get the rounds.

I'm happy enough with the performance. I could maybe have done a wee bit more, but that will come as my career goes on.

“The atmosphere was great. Coming from St James', people come out to support you no matter what so I was just happy to get rounds and start with a win.

“If MTK want to move me fast, then I'm happy to do that. I'm just happy to have got off to a wining start.”

FORMER Northern Ireland Area Welterweight champion Paddy 'Red' Graham, who died aged 87 on October 9, was one of the great gutsy characters of Irish boxing, writes Denis O'Hara.

The ginger-haired tearaway, a legend in the history of the Belfast St George's Boxing Club, lived most of his life in the Belfast Markets area.

Born on May 5, 1932, in the village of Killough, County Down, he came with his parents to reside in Belfast Markets district at five years of age.

Nearby was the famous St George's Club, which he joined as a juvenile. In 1952 he was part of the Club's 'Magnificent Seven' fighters - all winning Ulster Senior amateur titles on the same night in the Ulster Hall. Graham clinched the featherweight honors for the then 'Cradle of Champions'.

A year later he lost the title on a cut-eye decision, in the final, to future British Featherweight finalist Jimmy Brown.

Graham, now filled out to lightweight - and managed by England-based Jimmy Lumb - switched to the paid ranks on December 28, 1953, at the Ulster Hall, Belfast, where he defeated Tommy Bleeks of Stewartstown, county Tyrone.

In his 11th contest it was up to the welterweight grade, but losing to Gerry Smyth, also of the Markets, for the Area Lightweight crown.

He collided four times with fellow Belfast ringmaster Peter 'Al' Sharpe - swapping the Area title on the way. He also had three hair-raising scraps with Trinidad whirlwind Boswell St Louis, winning one.

Graham also met other high pedigree punchers of that era - such as world ranked American Ted 'Farmer' Wright, South Africa's Willie Toweel - and leading British boxers Darkie Hughes, Brian Curvis, Johnny Kramer, Cliff Brown, Brian Husband, Tommy Molloy and Cork-born Mick Leahy.

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