By Richard Hubbard
Boxrec, according to unbeaten welterweight Macaulay McGowan, can be a pretty unforgiving resource for boxing prospects when it comes to persuading prospective punters to part with their hard-earned and stump up for a few tickets.
The days of the ring rookies enjoying a blind date for their formative fights are are long gone and the inevitable first question when the sales pitch gets underway is ‘who are you fighting?’. Armed with the information, the potential buyer is nowadays just a few clicks away from knowing pretty much all you need to know about who will be stepping out from the red corner.
More importantly, exactly how many blots he already has on his copybook. There is no glossing over a lopsided losing record these days and few outside of dedicated devotees of the sport really get the journeyman concept.
But young fighters have got to be given the opportunity to learn the ropes before risking their own record. How long the apprenticeship should last is the burning question.
McGowan is more than happy to step up now – in and out of the ring. Last Wednesday the 21-year-old became a dad when his girlfriend Francesca gave birth to his daughter Florence, with this interview actually interrupting baby’s first bath time.
The 10-0 man shouldn’t suffer any sleepless nights – over tickets sales, at least – as next time around on October 8 in Harrow there will be no need to sex up the stats. McGowan and local undefeated puncher Jez Smith will be trading blows in a bid to claim the other’s 0.
It is not a fight that requires much in the way of sales patter because it is a curiously rare occasion when two young talents agree to be matched. On the face of it, it is a natural progression, but it doesn’t happen nearly often enough without titles on the table.
“I know, it is strange really, people say ‘fair play to you’ but it is boxing, isn’t it?” reasoned McGowan, who simply can’t fathom the overall reluctance of young fighters to face each other. “That’s what we’re in this sport to do, we’re in it to fight whoever is put in front of us. I don’t think there should be any congrats to us both for taking the fight because that is what you are supposed to do and we’ll be getting paid to do it.
“Some boxers just want to fight people with no ambition, it’s getting to be a bad thing,” he argued, before revealing some fights are a hard sell in this age of information at your fingertips.
“When your mates ask you who you are boxing you’ve got to tell them. You know they are going to Google the name and you know that Boxrec is going to come up and reveal he has lost about a 100!
“You’d rather say I don’t know who I am fighting yet and talk it up! I could fight journeymen all my life if it wasn’t for Boxrec!!”
Smith is the holder of a 7-0 record with three KOs to McGowan’s one. A year younger, McGowan holds the edge on rounds in the bank, having clocked up 47 to Smith’s 22. Smith, however, will enjoy the bulk of the support at the Harrow Leisure Centre, but this is something his opponent is clearly unfazed by.
“No, it’s just a fight, isn’t it? It doesn’t matter where it is. I’ve had what, three more fights than him and we’re just going to get in there and get it done. It doesn’t matter that I’ve had ten fights to his seven or that he is fighting at home.
“I think all that is irrelevant. If he thinks he’s got an advantage then that is his way of thinking, mine is that it is what it is and we will fight wherever.
“If it was on my doorstep there would be a lot more people there to support me, but I have boxed in London three times, so I am used to travelling down, staying over and boxing somewhere I am not familiar with. It is not a problem.”
“I’ve experienced doing six and eight rounds and know what it feels like,” added McGowan on something Smith is yet to sample. “He’s going to find out what it feels like and against me as well, a live opponent. It will be my first time boxing over that distance against a live opponent as well.
“If it is preying on his mind about not having boxed the rounds, I am not bothered, I will be doing my thing and worrying about myself. At the end of the day it is just a fight and we will go in there and go at it. I am confident I am going to win.”
Now he has hit double figures on his fight card, McGowan agrees the time is now right for a coming together that stirs his own juices, admitting recent contests have not fired his imagination or ignited any fear of losing.
He believes victory would also provide a nudge to the promoter and matchmaker over which rookie they can roll the dice with.
“I feel like you’ve got to have these fights. It is not a massive one and it is not for anything but the winner, which will be me, will then be out of that journeyman stage and options will open up and you can start looking at that next step.
“Before it has just been fighting journeymen and waiting for something like this. It has now come along and it will take me out of that crowd of prospects at the bottom, elevate me a bit higher and get me on that ladder.
“Hopefully the promoter will look at the winner of this and say ‘we’ll go with him’, although it will still be at the back of the queue.
“In the last few fights I’ve thought it has not really been a challenge and it has shown in the ring, especially with the last one where I was pretty bored in that fight, to be honest. I was bored, the crowd was bored and it did show.
“You need to know the other lad isn’t happy losing. With journeymen they are not bothered about losing so the win doesn’t feel like it should. When you have a challenge and the lad is coming to win, you know it will be a greater feeling.
“You are looking for that feeling of satisfaction and this fight will bring it, where you can say ‘yes!’ after winning.
“I wanted a fight like this, against someone with a winning record where it looks on paper like it could be a good fight. After this fight people will take note.”
Both fighters instantly agreed to this match-up without initially knowing the other had accepted too. McGowan said he harboured very few doubts over whether the fight would go ahead because he can’t see the downside to signing on the dotted line.
“It is not a big fight to say yes to, it is like if you got offered Golovkin, you are gonna say yeah because you are in this game to fight and that’s the end of it. You are not in there to fanny about tickling each other, you want to fight the best and it is a competition within yourself to see how far you can go.
“If I saw this fight coming up I would be looking forward to watching it, so I’m sure people will enjoy it.”
McGowan hails from the boxing hotbed that is now Wythenshawe, close to Manchester Airport, with the Jimmy Egan gym production line also launching the careers of Jimmy Kelly jnr, Kofi Yates, Hosea Burton and one Tyson Fury.
“It’s all been about Jimmy Egans and we’ve all come from there. We all got a good grounding and then all went our separate ways – we are all doing quite well from Wythenshawe though,” he considered, adding that within the locality the colourful hit series Shameless was filmed.
“Only the brave survive here! There are a few characters, but we’re all generally nice people with a bit of a nutty edge to us!”
Some would say nutty edge sums up the occasional antics of probably the most famous sporting product of the town, one who McGowan encountered at an early age and was instantly in awe of.
“I was nine and Tyson was massive, so I always thought he was a lot older than he was, but he was only 15 or 16. We were at the gym for years together, he would train during the day and when I was off school I would see the car there and run down and watch him train on the pads.
“You could tell straight away he was special. After his first few professional fights a lot of people were slagging him off, but you knew there was something about him and it came to fruition when be boxed Klitschko.”
Should his arm be held aloft in Harrow on October 8, it might not be too long before Wythenshawe will be able to give a shameless plug to another champion on its roll of honour – one you won’t need to look up on Boxrec.