The last chance saloon, a term often mentioned in boxing when an individual finds themselves on the cusp of retirement or boxing at a high level where opportunities are afforded to you a little easier, this was where cruiserweight Tommy McCarthy found himself in his last bout back in October of last year, the away fighter topping the bill against an undefeated Italian Fabio Tuchi in Italy, what followed was a career best win for McCarthy as he became the first man to beat Turchi, Luke spoke to Tommy recently to get his thoughts on that fight & a look back over his career..
LC: Hi Tommy, thanks for agreeing to speak to SimBoxx, first off how are you keep yourself busy & fit during the whole Covid-19 situation?
TM: I have 4 daughters so they are keeping me busy during the lockdown!
LC: You’ve been away from the ring since arguably the best win of your career last October, becoming the first person to defeat Fabio Turchi, picking up the WBC International Cruiserweight title in the process, can you take us through that bout & how much the win meant to you?
TM: The whole event was amazing. I was top of the bill live on Sky Sports and DAZN. Fighting for a title against the defending champion in his backyard. I knew he was a banger and had great boxing skills so the plan was to stay on the outside and not take any chances in the first round. I knew his power would diminish as the fight went on and I would get stronger the longer it went. In the second round I caught him and his legs stiffened so I unloaded thinking I was going to stop him but he recovered well. Each round my confidence was growing and I was out boxing him. By round 6 his face was a mess and I could see he was starting to tire and break mentally while I was feeling great. I believe if he wasn’t the champion in his hometown the ref would’ve stopped the fight because of the damage to his face. The WBC call out the score cards after rounds 4 and 8 so I knew I had to win 3 out of the last 4 rounds to guarantee victory. Going out for round 12 Pete told me not to coast, sacrifice everything and leave it all in the ring. My manager Mark was screaming “This is it, the belts yours, do it for your kids”. At the final bell I knew I’d won but when they called out “split decision” I thought I was going to get robbed. Thankfully the judges were fair and I got the belt. It was a great feeling winning my first title at long last and putting myself in the mix for a world title. At the end all the Italians were cheering my name. It was like Rocky 4 when he beats Ivan Drago in Russia and they all start shout ‘Rocky, Rocky’.
LC: It’s a truly remarkable story & one your evidently proud of & rightly so!
If we can go back to the beginning, before you turned pro, did you box as an amateur & if so what was your record, if you remember?
TM: I started boxing at 12 in the Oliver Plunkett ABC in west Belfast. Had around 124 fights 100 wins. Won national titles at every level. Commonwealth games silver medal. World youth bronze. A number of multi nations medals all colours.
LC: Fantastic, you transitioned into the pro ranks in 2014, what are you memories of your debut (v Rolandas Cesna)?
TM: I wanted to get the KO and I was nervous because I didn’t want to lose on the first one!
LC: You did indeed get the KO & went on to win your first five bouts by KO too, was that something you purposely set out to accomplish to win specifically by KO or did it just come naturally?
TM: Yeah, I was always looking for the KO in every fight.
LC: Your first step up in class came against a couple of experienced opponents in Courtney Fry & John Lewis Dickinson, you won a points decision against Courtney Fry & then went on to defeat Dickinson over 10 rounds in UD win, how much did you learn from those fights as you stepped up in rounds?
TM: I learned what it was like to box over a long distance. The Fry fight was the first boxing show in the west Belfast feile and it was my first time topping a bill. The Dickinson fight introduced me to the big stage boxing live on Sky Sports. Both great experiences.
LC: Fantastic, headlining the bill for the first time against Fry must’ve been a momentous occasion for you?
TM: Yea it was. Was a massive step up in class so early in my career. And the feile is the biggest event of the summer. Michael Conlan headlined it last year and it was massive. When I boxed there was 2000 fans there but it felt like 20,000.
LC: Superb, unfortunately you’d go on to lose against Matty Askin, your first career defeat, what was your initial reaction to dealing with the first loss?
TM: I was devastated to after that loss. Matty had so much experience and I learned more in that defeat than I did in my victories. I knew I had to make some changes if I wanted to go to the next level so I linked up with Ensley Bingham and based my training in Manchester.
LC: Looking back on the fight what do you think caused the loss?
TM: Matty was more prepared. I was in great shape but I wasn’t prepared tactically.
LC: You went on to score 4 convincing wins in a row on the back of that loss so any changes you made after the Askin fight clearly paid dividends at that point..
TM: Yeah but it was hard getting back after that loss, I struggled get fights. I wasn’t going anywhere but I switched my management and signed with Mark Dunlop. He got my career going again. He got me a shot at Riakphore for the WBA Intercontinental title. I took it at late notice and over looked him. It cost me dearly and I took my second loss. Mark stuck by me, got me a handy comeback fight and then landed the Turchi fight for the WBC International title. Once the opportunity came I knew it was last chance so I got in contact with Pete Taylor. I knew he was the best in the country and maybe the world. He agreed to work with me and it turned out to be the right move. It’s all came together perfectly. With Mark Dunlop as my manager and Pete Taylor as my coach I know I’ll go all the way.
LC: So what does the future hold for Tommy McCarthy once the boxing world is back up & running?
TM: Im mandatory challenger for the European title so that will be my next fight. After I win that I want the world title!
LC: Lofty ambitions Tommy & I’m sure it’ll be a fascinating watch following your career!
‘5 to Finish’
1. Your biggest inspiration?
TM: My family.
2. Your ideal opponent?
TM: Joe Frazier
3. Your favourite bout of your career so far?
TM: Fabio Turchi
4. All time favourite boxer?
TM: Muhammed Ali
5. All time favourite fight?
TM: Coralles v Castillo
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