Sport

Following Carl Frampton foosteps... Sean McComb vows to win WBO title eliminator in New York

McComb versus Barboza junior the co-main event at Barclays Center in Brooklyn

Sean McComb dropped Sam Maxwell three times over 10 impressive rounds
Sean McComb dropped Sam Maxwell three times over 10 impressive rounds

THREE years ago it looked like Irish boxing would lose a special talent when Sean McComb suddenly turned his back on opponent Gavin Gwynne mid-round and walked to his corner.

McComb’s career reached a crossroads that night in 2021 and it was clear he would either have to sort himself out or hang up his gloves.

Thankfully he knuckled down and since that loss he has looked like a different fighter, a different man. Win has followed win with Pete Taylor in his corner and his performances have improved steadily with last December’s three-knockdown points win over Sam Maxwell the highlight of his career so far.

He will put that victory in the shade if he beats Arnold Barboza junior and wins the WBO Inter-Continental title as co-main event with Haney-Garcia at the Barclays Center in New York on April 20.

The Brooklyn venue was the scene of Carl Frampton’s famous victory over Leo Santa Cruz a few years ago and McComb expects luck to keep smiling on the Irish as he goes into the WBO super-lightweight title eliminator.

“It’s a good show, a good platform and I’m excited for it,” he said on the way home from training in Dublin.

“As soon as I got the opportunity I said: ‘Yes, 100 per cent, I’ll take the fight…’ I didn’t have to consider it.

“He’s a good fighter, he’s got good attributes but I have full belief I can beat him and take his unbeaten run away from him. He’s good but he’s been matched very well, he’s got a good record but I bring something to the table that he’s never experienced before.

“The talent was always there with me. I was always there as a good boxer, I had the work ethic and I had one wee setback, one blip, along the way and even then I wasn’t terrible when I lost, I just wasn’t in the right headspace.

“From then I’ve got my head right, my coach right, my tactics right, my training periodisation right. There’s been no mistakes from then to now and look where it’s got me – right to the top level of professional boxing so I’m happy enough.”

McComb is ranked eighth with the WBO while Barboza is the number one contender after he progressed to 29-0 with an eight-round stoppage win in Las Vegas in January. The winner is in the frame to fight New Yorker Teofimo Lopez who holds the WBO super-lightweight title.

“You put your whole life into getting these opportunities,” said McComb.

“There’s no pressure on me, there’s no big expectations of me. He’s the man who’s known, he’s the home favourite and the one signed with Golden Boy. So the expectations are on him and I’m just going to go in and do what I do best and upset the applecart.

“It’s a global platform and it’s the co-main event, it’s not away down the card, it’s right up there with the big names and personalities of boxing. A good performance here puts me right up among those boys and I know I belong among them.

“I’ve never been signed by a promoter, I’ve done it the hard way with just a manager but once I win this I’m sure the promoter will come knocking my door.”

Without the backing of a promoter, McComb has had to take fights at short notice but because he is a full-time boxer he’s been able to win at short notice. He’s had four weeks’ to prepare for Barboza and is determined that will be enough.

“Last year I fought Kaisee Benjamin with four weeks’ notice but I accepted it because I train all-year round,” he said.

“It was the same again for the Feile and then I had six weeks to get ready for Sam Maxwell and look at the performance I put on because I was able to work on proper tactics and specific sparring. Again I’ve got four weeks’ notice but I took it with no hesitation and I believe I’ll win again.”

Sean McComb intends to be on the cusp of a world title fight this time next year
Sean McComb fights Arnold Barboza junior in New York on April 20

FORMER Michaela Walsh opponent Skye Nicolson rolled the dice in Las Vegas and made it a perfect 10 to become the new WBC World Featherweight Champion by beating Sarah Mahfoud on Saturday.

Now promoter Eddie Hearn wants Australia’s new boxing queen to reap the rewards of her crowning glory and embark on a huge homecoming defence Down Under.

It was total domination for Nicolson (10-0) at the five-star Fontainebleau Las Vegas Resort as she captured the coveted green and gold belt with a unanimous points victory, with scores of 100-90, 100-90 and 99-91 – over former IBF holder Mahfoud.

And by doing so the 28-year-old star restored Aussie pride and broke the Sin City hoodoo after compatriots Tim Tszyu and Michael Zerafa lost recently.

Matchroom Sport boss Hearn revealed he is planning talks with Australian authorities as early as this week in a bid to deliver Nicolson’s return – before targeting huge fights with the likes of mandatory WBC challenger Raven Chapman and division ruler Amanda Serrano later this year.

“I now need to speak to people in Australia because she needs that homecoming defence quite quickly,” said Hearn.

“Skye barely broke sweat in there. She was very impressive and loads more to come from her. I didn’t give Mahfoud a round, but one judge did.

“I think you’re only seeing 20 per cent of Skye Nicolson. I’ve seen her train and I’ve watched her spar where she’s hurting girls repeatedly. But how can you criticise her when she’s beating the number two-ranked featherweight in the world in a mismatch?

“We all want excitement and I want to see her letting her hands go a bit more and stopping people. I know it’s there and I know she can do it.

“But she’s winning so easily, and her style is a nightmare for people. That’s why people like (Amanda) Serrano don’t really want to take the fight until the money is out of control because it is high risk. Her feet, her movement is really good and if she can start letting her hands go – because she can punch – then she’s going to be even more tough to beat.”