Boxing

Amateur star James McGivern set for professional debut in Wakefield show

James McGivern was a bronze medal winner at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia
Andy Watters

ANYONE who has seen James McGivern action will know his pedigree. A well-schooled, tall southpaw with good movement and smart shot-selection he can box and fight and was a medallist at the last Commonwealth Games.

So it was a surprise to learn that he'd given up boxing until he was enticed back into the sport a year ago and were it not for the right words at the right time from one of his coaches, McGivern could have been working on a building site this week. Win, lose or draw he'll be back working as a plumber next Monday anyway but he wants his future to be in boxing and this week he's “living the dream” in a Covid-19 bubble at a Wakefield hotel looking forward to making his professional debut tomorrow night.

Had it not been for the coronavirus pandemic, McGivern would have had three fights under his belt by now. He's had to bide his time but says he's “just glad to be finally getting out”.

In complete contrast, his opponent, Jamie Quinn, is a grizzled veteran in his 112th fight. The English journeyman has lost 102 of those but he beat the last debutant he fought, so 22-year-old Belfast prospect McGivern won't get away with taking liberties.

“He's a tough 'oul customer,” said McGivern.

“It's a baptism of fire. People will look at his record and say he's not great but he's only been stopped three times and he's never been knocked out. He's as tough as they come so I won't be taking it easy.

“He's probably looking at me thinking: ‘This kid's coming in off an amateur background, he's going to suit me' and he's probably licking his lips. I'll need to put on the best performance I can and I'm fully prepared for a six-round battle.”

Since winning gold at the Commonwealth Youth Games and silver at the European Youth Championships in 2015, McGivern has been earmarked as one to watch. He agrees that there is a “level of expectation” on his shoulders but begins his pro career with the right attitude – he's intending to enjoy it.

“I'm just excited” he says.

“This is all very new territory and I'm just taking it as it comes and looking forward to getting back to what I do. I'm glad to get back into a ring and get fighting again.

“There probably is a level of expectation on me I suppose but I'm here to do what I do best and enjoy it.

“A guy asked me the other day ‘what's your goal for your career?' and to be honest it's just to enjoy it. I'm not even looking about world titles or whatever, I know there is a long road ahead of me and I just want to enjoy it.”

Since he's coached by his dad Jim and had his brother to train with, McGivern was more fortunate than most boxers during the lockdown and he has come through it in good shape. His focus and condition now is a stark contrast to where he was 12 months ago.

“A year ago I was done with boxing,” he said.

“It took Danny (Boyle, coach) to stoke the fire and I thought: ‘Why not? I'll give it a go' and thank God I did because where I am now to where I was then is chalk and cheese. I'm happy, I've fallen back in love with boxing again and I'm buzzing to be here for this fight.

“It's not glitz and glamour. I work for my cousin who's a plumber and I still have to work during the week. My day calls me a novice pro and that's exactly what I am – I won't be coming out of this fight and buying a Rolex and a Bentley, I'll be home on Thursday and back to work on Monday.

“Ideally boxing will be my job and I'll be able to make a living out of it but my focus is Wednesday. I want to get this fight out of the way, take it step-by-step and see where I get to.”

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Boxing