Jack McGann is the latest convert to the noble art, the most recent in a steadily increasing line of MMA fighters who have chosen to swap the octagon for the boxing ring. The 25-year-old from Liverpool makes his professional debut at the Manchester Arena on Saturday and takes us through his story in his first Fighter Diary…
FIGHTER DIARY BY JACK MCGANN
I HAVE BEENa professional in MMA for about five and a half years now, I have had 16 fights and my last five were at pretty much the top level on the biggest promotions against world class opponents.
But, they all took place in Russia! I’ve got ten first round knockouts and, in my fights, I was criticised for looking too much like just a boxer. Predominantly I have always boxed and have always had a love for boxing.
I was sort of in a place where, with my contract up with the promotion after me fighting in places like Moscow and Siberia in big arenas on high production shows, I had to decide where to go next.
It was a case of fighting for a different promotion in MMA or do what I have always wanted to do and box. The fact is, right now, boxing has never been as big as it is in Britain. It is not happening in Vegas, it is UK lads all over the place selling out shows and big fights.
So if there is the right time to switch over it is now.
Even though I was fighting in locations such as Moscow, I was still training locally and just travelled out there in the week of the fight. Even leading into my MMA fights I was always working in a boxing gym and I have been trained as an amateur, even though I have never had amateur fights.
I have contested in pretty much every combat sport – wrestling, jujitsu, Thai boxing, kick boxing – everything apart from boxing up to now, but even going into my MMA fights I always sparred boxers and that is why I know I can do this.
I am not taking a leap into the dark.
I train with Alex Matvienko and for this camp Owen Roddy – who also works with Conor McGregor – has helped me a lot. I have worked with him for years and he has cornered me in the past, so it is a joint effort between Alex and Owen.
There is no better place for me to start off as a pro boxer than on this huge card at the Manchester Arena. I am not dead good at blagging people and, when we started talking to Frank, I didn’t give loads of false promises or say this or that about myself. They came down and watched me spar with some of Britain’s best boxers and, after four rounds or so, they said ‘we’ll have him’.
So I passed the test, sort of thing, I’ve ended up on this card and I am so grateful. On the other side of the coin it shows Frank’s trust in me to put me on the show. He wouldn’t put me on this if he thought nothing special was going to happen.
An important thing for me in switching sports is that I didn’t just want to start again. I’ve been a professional for five years and I’ve dieted, trained for fights and gone through the process, so I didn’t want to just throw all that away.
That is why I am starting off on a six-rounder against a decent opponent. I am not following the usual path because I am not coming from the usual place.
Until I get going there is no way of knowing if I have made the right choice though. On Sunday I could be sitting here after knocking him out in ten seconds or I could be sitting with lumps and bumps all over my face saying ‘that was a bad idea’.
The second bit is not going to happen because I know my own ability and, no matter what happens, it is not going to damage my MMA career at all if I go back there.
As a fighter – just a fighter, full stop, never mind what event it is in – it is going to enhance me, it is never going to damage me. It is only going to better me and that is another reason why it is a clever move.
I haven’t fought in the UK for two and a half years – and that is from a busy fighter who fights five times a year – so that is one of the really exciting things about this in that I get to fight at home.
It is only up the road from my home in Kirkdale, Liverpool – so it is a good start for me.