Tommy McCarthy: 'I've ticked all the boxes in training for European title rumble'

Tommy McCarthy: 'I've ticked all the boxes in training for European title rumble'
Andy Watters

BOXERS, fighters, bullies… Tommy McCarthy ticked every box he could think of in training for Saturday night’s showdown with Bilal Laggoune (25-1-2) for the vacant EBU European Cruiserweight title at Wembley Arena.

Pete Taylor-trained McCarthy takes on the experienced Belgian on the undercard of Oleksandr Usyk versus Dereck Chisora on Sky Sports on Saturday night and victory will see the winner move to within touching distance of a world title shot.

McCarthy has described the fight as a “world title eliminator” and it may work out that way.

For sparring he brought in Steven Ward, Steve Collins jnr and Paul McCullagh among others and said each one had made him work on a different aspect of his armoury.

“Laggoune is a boxer but he’s not as good as Stevie Ward, he’s not as strong or as tough as Stevie Collins junior and he doesn’t punch as hard as Paul McCullagh, so it’s been great to tick all the boxes,” said McCarthy.

“The training camp has gone perfect to be honest. I’ve had good notice for the fight so I’ve had great sparring and everything’s gone brilliant, so I can’t complain.

“Laggoune is a good, solid all-rounder but I’m very confident that he won’t be able to live with me in terms of boxing skill or fitness or strength – I think I’m above him across the board. It’s not an easy fight but I’m very confident.

“It’s all on the night. It’s like a school test – you can be as smart as you want all year but you have to deliver on the exam day. It all comes down to the night and the main focus is getting to fight night injury-free, healthy and being able to perform.”

McCarthy's career took a huge blow in March 2019 when he was stopped in four rounds by London's big-punching British cruiserweight champion Richard Riakporhe at the East of England Arena in Peterborough. But the 29-year-old says that loss was the making of him as a fighter.

"Even when I was at the bottom, I always knew it would turn good because I have the talent," he said.

"I had a terrible loss, an embarrassing loss, and I had to pick myself up from being at an all-time low. After I sat down and did some soul-searching, I phoned Mark (Dunlop) my manager and I said: ‘Look, that’s never happening again, so let’s get a fight as soon as possible’.”

Two wins restored his confidence but when he travelled to Trento, Italy last year, he travelled as the underdog. McCarthy was challenging local fighter Fabio Turci for his World Boxing Council International Cruiserweight belt and he ripped up the pre-fight script by delivering on his talent and producing the performance of his career.

One judge (the Italian) went for Turci but McCarthy was a clear winner on the other two cards.

Saturday night’s fight had originally been scheduled for February but the offer of a shot at the WBA super title against Arsen Goulamirian in April superseded that. Then the Covid-19 pandemic superseded everything.

“The deal was agreed and the fight was made for April 16 in Paris,” McCarthy explains.

“So I have been inactive since the fight in Italy but everybody’s been inactive. Most people have only fought once this year. It’s been out of their hands. I’m glad I’m getting this big fight before the end of the year and I want to finish the year in a high.”

Meanwhile, Laggoune hopes to secure a world title shot for himself by beating McCarthy on Saturday night.

“I am aware that this is an opportunity to shine on the international scene,” said the Belgian.

“Eddie Hearn, the promoter, is a bit of a Don King of 2020, so it’s up to me to show myself in my best light.”

MICHAEL Conlan and Isaac Dogboe could be on collision course after both confirmed their interest in a December rumble.

After Conlan confirmed in The Irish News that he wanted to face him, the Londoner came out on social media to boast: “My main reason to fight Conlan is the mere fact that he’s the quickest route for me to become a two-time world champion. When his name was mentioned I said: ‘Yes sir, I love it let’s go!’

No contracts have been signed for the fight as yet but Conlan’s manager Jamie confirmed that former WBO super-bantam king Dogboe could be the next opponent for his unbeaten younger brother.

“Michael will fight someone in the top 15 with the WBO next,” said Jamie.

“Whether it’s Dogboe or not, he’ll fight someone in the top 15 of the WBO, that’s the plan with Michael. Dogboe is now number 10 with the WBO but we’re also looking at three other guys in the top 15.

“The Dogboe fight is something that Michael wants so we will explore all the options, we’ll look at every possibility.”

Conlan has come out on top in sparring sessions against Dogboe in the past but, from a business point of view, the question is: Does it make sense for him to fight Dogboe at this stage of his career? The former amateur world champion is on the verge of securing a shot at the WBO super-bantamweight title which is currently held by American Angelo Leo. Leo defends his title against Steven Fulton in December and Conlan is expected to take on the winner within 120 days.

“That could potentially be on St Patrick’s weekend at Madison Square Garden in New York or we could bring a world title fight to Belfast in August at the Feile in Falls Park,” said Jamie.

“It’s been a very successful partnership and it’s something Michael wants to do so that is the plan – no matter what, we’ll bring a world title fight to Feile next year.”

CARL Frampton could take on WBO super-featherweight champion Jamel Herring in December.

It is understood that a deal is in the works for Belfast’s Jackal to take on New Yorker Herring in London on December 19 with the winner potentially going on to defend the title against Shakur Stevenson in the spring of 2021.

The WBO sanctioned Frampton-Herring in October with the order that the winner must defend the belt against Stevenson within 90 days after that.

WBO champ Herring beat Jonathan Oquendo in September after Frampton had stayed on course for his bid to become Ireland’s fight three-weight world champion by stopping Scotland's Darren Traynor in London in August.



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