Sport

Seconds Out: McComb back to what he does best ahead of crucial Benjamin clash

Sean McComb celebrates after defeating Zsolt Osadan to land the WBO European super-lightweight crown in December. Picture by Sportsfile
Sean McComb celebrates after defeating Zsolt Osadan to land the WBO European super-lightweight crown in December. Picture by Sportsfile Sean McComb celebrates after defeating Zsolt Osadan to land the WBO European super-lightweight crown in December. Picture by Sportsfile

SEAN McComb is getting back to what he does best – but will have to show all his skill to get the better of home favourite Kaisee Benjamin in Birmingham on Saturday night.

That is the view of McComb’s coach Pete Taylor as the west Belfast man prepares to go into the lion’s den and defend his WBO European super-lightweight crown.

It will be McComb’s third fight with Taylor in the corner after shut-out victories over Ramiro Blanco and Zsolt Asadan on the undercard of SSE Arena shows headlined by friend Michael Conlan last year.

Having seen his momentum slowed by a surprise stoppage defeat to Welshman Gavin Gwynne in 2021, the pieces are starting to fall into place for the 30-year-old – and his coach believes the key is playing to McComb’s strengths between the ropes.

“When Sean turned over pro they wanted to change his style, they wanted him to sit down a little bit more… I don’t believe in that,” said Taylor, who knew McComb from his amateur days around the High Performance unit in Dublin.

“What made Sean great was his footwork, he’s a stylist, so I don’t understand the reasoning behind changing that when you turn pro. I’ve just tried to get Sean doing what he does best, back boxing and moving, don’t get hit. It suits him, and I think he’s enjoying boxing like that.

“Sean’s not a fighter, that’s not his style. Everybody tried to change him that way but I didn’t think it suited him.”

Benjamin, though, represents McComb’s biggest test since losing out to Gwynne two years ago – and, in order to keep his career on an upward trajectory and put himself in the mix for further titles, it is a fight he has to win.

Unbeaten Dalton Smith is regarded as one of the hottest properties in British boxing, but last November he had the toughest night of his fledgling career against the awkward Brummie, with the 116-113, 117-112, 115-114 scorecards showing how close it was.

Benjamin’s only other defeat came five years ago, a unanimous decision loss in a three rounder against Sam Evans.

Taylor knows the 27-year-old has the style to cause most problems, but feels McComb has the tools to impress on the night. And, considering he is going into his opponent’s back yard, a dominant performance will be required.

“Benjamin asked a lot of questions of Dalton Smith.

“Last week we were away in the UK sparring - we went over to Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield, and we were actually over in Dalton Smith’s gym for sparring.

“I think we’ve got the tactics to beat him, I saw how Dalton beat him, it’ll be different because Dalton’s an orthodox boxer. Sean has all the attributes to win, but it’s obviously it’s going to be tough fighting him in Birmingham as well.

“Sean’s a stylist, so what he has to do is make sure he’s hitting Kaisee Benjamin, and making sure Benjamin’s not catching him at all.

“You’ve got to make it very obvious, because even if the punches whizz past you, they could give it against you over there. We have to win each round clearly.

“When you’re fighting an English boxer over there, you can’t have any subjective rounds. We’ve got to win the rounds big, otherwise you won’t get the decision.”

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Derry middleweight Connor Coyle moved to 19-0 on Saturday night. Picture by Hugh Russell
Derry middleweight Connor Coyle moved to 19-0 on Saturday night. Picture by Hugh Russell Derry middleweight Connor Coyle moved to 19-0 on Saturday night. Picture by Hugh Russell

COYLE KEEPS UP WINNING STREAK IN FLORIDA

DERRY middleweight Connor Coyle maintained his unbeaten record with a unanimous decision win over Argentine Cristian Fabian Rios on Saturday night.

The 32-year-old moved to 19-0 after victory on the 'Fire on the Bay' show in Florida, with Coyle retaining his NABA title at the Hilton Carillon in Saint Petersburg.

He looked comfortable throughout and won every round on his way to another impressive victory, with Coyle returning to the ring for the first time since stopping Sladan Janjanin back in December.

Rios - a late stand-in opponent for Fernando Farias - came in with some pedigree having gone the distance against unbeaten Esquiva Falcão last year, as well big hitting Canadian David Lemieux back in 2016.

But Coyle, a Commonwealth Games bronze medallist in 2014, was accurate throughout, hurting Rios with shots to the body and head on the way to a convincing victory, and the Derry man will hope to force his way into the world title picture in the near future.