Boxing

McComb primed to bounce back after Gwynne defeat

COMEBACK TRAIL Sean McComb hopes to bounce back with trainer Pete Taylor in his corner at Belfast’s Féile an Phobail in August Picture: Mark Marlow ??

“I caught myself on, I thought: ‘What am I even doing here? I don’t want to be here – get these gloves off me…’”

Sean McComb

SEAN McComb learned more from losing to Gavin Gwynne than from the 11 wins that preceded it. He's determined that one bad night isn't going to define a career that had showed exciting promise and hopes to bounce back with Pete Taylor in his corner at Belfast’s Feile an Phobail in August.

McComb took on tough Welshman Gwynne for the Commonwealth lightweight title in Bolton in February and boxed well in spells before he tired and, under immense pressure from the Merthyr Tydfil hardman, called it quits in the seventh round.

There was speculation that McComb would hang up his gloves after the disappointment but the talented box-fighter has taken stock and returns wiser for the experience.

“You just have to take it (the loss) with a pinch of salt,” he said.

“I didn’t start my journey thinking I was going to go unbeaten in my whole career. I’ve learned a lot from it and I wasn’t in a good frame of mind at the time of the fight. I did an 18-week camp, the fight was put back three times and I was cutting weight for weeks and weeks… I was in Pakistan, Dubai, Glasgow… I was everywhere but the house.

“There was loads of stuff going on in the background, we’d just had a baby and then Danny (Vaughan) was living out in Dubai so he wasn’t there.

“Even in that state of mind I still thought I was going to win but I didn’t want to be there, I did not want to be there for one second and I couldn’t wait to get it over and done with. If I’m ever in that frame of mind again I won’t fight.

“I just wanted to go home, I didn’t want to be there. I wasn’t getting beaten up but I was under-performing, the fight was probably level at the point where I just gave up and said: ‘F**k this, I don’t want to be here’.

“My confidence hasn’t taken a knock. It’s not like I took a bad beating. It was an experience and the stuff I learned from that loss is more than any win.”

McComb had to deal with criticism on social media for calling it quits mid-round but he remains confident that he has the ability to beat the best in the lightweight division.

“I know I’m still a good operator – I know I’m still a classy, good boxer,” he said.

“I know I can still beat the top lads and I will. That will all come and that’s when I’ll prove myself. I got a bit of stick, fair enough, but the fight was a cracking fight. I was entertaining people but I didn’t want to be there and then I caught myself on. I thought: ‘What am I even doing here? I don’t want to be here – get these gloves off me…’

“I’m still confident I would have gone on to win it and it’s not like I was sh*t, like I took a bad beating. I’ll prove myself when I get back.”

Looking ahead, McComb says he will return to his box-and-move strengths and stay away from shoot-outs with less talented opponents in the centre of the ring.

“I need to get back to my old ways of boxing,” he said.

“I was standing in there trading but my style is boxing and moving and I need to get back to that, no matter who I’m fighting.

“The other thing I’ve learned is that you need to make selfish decisions sometimes – if something isn’t going right you need to stop and say: ‘Listen, this is how I feel…’ There’s a lot to take away from the whole experience and I’m glad it happened at this stage of my career, not later on.”

McComb, who walked from his Turf Lodge home to box at the Feile in 2019, split with former coach Vaughan after the Liverpool native moved his training base to Dubai. Since the Gwynne fight he has linked up with Taylor, his coach during his amateur days with Ireland’s High Performance team.

"Pete reached out to me after the fight just to say he hoped everything was well,” he said.

“Danny is in Dubai so it was a mutual agreement between me and him (to part company) because it’s not feasible for me to go out and live there, my daughter was born four months ago.

“I wanted to stay at home and Pete has a brilliant stable. He’s known for what he achieved with Katie and the Ireland team as well as the professionals. He invited me down and I said I would give it a go and I went down and trialled it out and I really like his style of training.

“It’s very similar to the High Performance set up so it suits me. He’s a very knowledgeable guy in boxing and I felt at home down there and obviously he’s got Tyrone McKenna, Tommy McCarthy, Tyrone McCullagh, Gary Cully… boys I knew from the amateurs.”

CAOIMHIN Agyarko will have to bide his time for a title fight after he was unable to find a suitable opponent for a shot at the WBC International middleweight belt on Saturday night.

The ambitious former Holy Trinity star (24) only found out yesterday that his title shot had fallen through but he will take on Mexican Ernesto Olvera on the undercard of Daniel Dubois’ return to action against Bogdan Dinu in Telford.

“We’ve had a bit of a nightmare with opponents,” said Agyarko.

“We’ve had a nightmare with people pulling out and turning down the fight. The title fight has fallen through with opponents pulling out.

“The WBC wouldn’t sanction anyone my management team got hold of who would take the fight and anyone who they (the WBC) felt was good enough wouldn’t accept the fight.

“I suppose it’s a compliment to my style as a fighter but it is a bit of a nightmare because every fight we’re having a struggle to get the right opponent.

“It’s disappointing, this has been a 13-week camp and I’ve sacrificed so much and put the work in and trained harder than ever. I’m in the best shape ever but that’s boxing, I understand that and as long as I’m fighting I don’t really care – the title fight will come.

“I know I’m only eight fights in (to my professional career) and there’s plenty of time for title fights but I’ve been planning on this since December. I’ve been told that the next fight will be for a title so it is what it is and I’m just focussed on getting a win regardless.”

Durango native Olvera (11-6-1) has come in at short notice and his record doesn’t suggest that he will cause an upset on Saturday night. But Josh Warrington and James Tennyson have found out to their cost that you cannot dismiss Mexican fighters.

“You have to be switched on,” said Agyarko.

“We’ve seen time and time again that these Mexicans come over and cause massive upsets. I’m a fighter who never takes any fight for granted. No matter what, I’ve got to go in there and perform, no matter who it’s against. I’m ready for the fight and I’ll not be overlooking him.”

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Boxing