Photograph: Boxing Scene

tommy mccarthyBelfast manager Pat Magee knows a thing or two about bringing a fighter along the right way. Having guided namesake Brian Magee to the highest level, as well as handling a string of other talented pugilists, Pat is ready to let his latest hope, Tommy McCarthy, off the leash. Speaking shortly after Tommy’s first-round destruction of Dimitar Spaiyski in the Devenish Complex Magee discussed his bright prospect’s progress so far and where they plan to take the 24-year-old next.

“It’s another learning fight for Tommy, his debut in Belfast and he wanted to please people,” assessed Magee. “Obviously he achieved that because you saw the reaction from the crowd. I think that’s the last time you’ll see him in a four-rounder. We can go six in the next fight or maybe even eight. He’s fit enough to do six or eight rounds and it’s just a question of getting him the right opposition as you don’t want him blowing people out in a round all the time.

“He’s had three imports, three good wins and now we want to measure him against somebody we know from the UK or Ireland. Let’s see who we can get because he’s not that easy to match. He could’ve been on a Matchroom show there last month and there were two cruiserweights on the bill and Matchroom were quite prepared to put one of them in with Tommy but they wouldn’t touch him. There are so many young so-called prospects now with five, six wins or a 7-0 record that won’t fight anybody but Tommy will fight anyone you put in front of him.”

Pat was ringside in Dublin last month to see Ian ‘The Tank’ Tims return to the ring with a four-round victory on Alan Wilton’s Red Cow show. Tims meets fellow cruiserweight Michael Sweeney in an Irish boxing grudge rematch on Matchroom’s 3Arena show but Magee insists that he would have issues throwing McCarthy in with Tims anytime soon.

“We wouldn’t have any problem taking Tims. That would be a tough one at this stage of Tommy’s career and we’re not in any hurry but equally we know that he doesn’t need 20 fights before he fights for a title.

“I’m every bit as excited as when I started with Brian [Magee] and I thought whenever Brian retired I would retire at the same time but with Tommy and young Phil Sutcliffe there’s something about the punchers. In the professional game especially you have to be able to hit and they can both hit. That guy [Spaiyski] wasn’t great but he was hurt from the first shot and Tommy wants to knock people out which is a good thing in the boxing game.”

Pat believes that with his connections and experience from many years in the fight game he can bring his boxers along quickly. With the likes of Rigondeaux and Lomachenko fighting for titles after a minuscule number of pro bouts the top amateur stars are making the transition to the prog game smoothly.

“We are seeing evidence now of all these great amateurs turning pro and they don’t need 20 fights anymore,” he said. “You saw [Artur] Beterbiev last week and Tommy knows him because he was in the same tournaments. Beterbiev blew away a former world champion [Tavoris Cloud] in only his sixth fight. I’m not saying we want to move as quickly as that but we are not going through the journeymen scene. Every fight from now on is going to be a fight to test him and see where we are at. I can see Tommy fighting for a British title in 2015. When I look at what’s there I don’t see anything to be concerned about.

“We are looking for good sparring now and we’ve been offered the opportunity of sparring with Youri Kalenga the French African and we’ve also been talking to Nathan Cleverly’s people about going over to Wales which we’d love to do. Quality sparring will bring him on because he’s got the expert coaching from Patsy [McAllister] and Bernardo [Checa] and all we need him to do is re-produce what he’s doing in the gym in the ring and we saw flashes of that tonight.

“His amateur experience is there to be seen and I think he’s the best prospect in Ireland,” said Pat Magee.

Before we wrapped up for the evening I briefly asked Pat how his big-punching light-welterweight hope Phil Sutcliffe Jnr was progressing.

“We got good news about Phil’s hand. It’s still painful but there’s no damage and he’ll be ready to fight again in November after a couple of weeks’ rest. He threw a punch that hit the guy [opponent Martin McCord] awkwardly on the top of the head and these things happen,” said Pat.

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