06 December 2009 – By Cormac Campbell
Brian Magee is a boxer who has experienced many highs and lows in his boxing career.
The glory of British and IBO title victories, packing out the Kings Hall and representing his country at the Olympics must be tempered with the agony of questionable decisions in European and British title fights and periods of inactivity.
But opportunity knocks once more for the ever personable Magee on January 30 when he travels to Denmark to square off against home hero Mads Larsen for the EBU super-middleweight crown.
Travelling is something Magee is familiar with. After all, just four of the 14 title bouts he has contested in his 36 fight paid career have taken place in his home city this despite the fact that he has had little difficulty selling tickets when he has been afforded home advantage. However, speaking to
he acknowledged that his willingness to go into the lions den is helpful when it comes to securing major title fights.
“That is certainly part of it,” he said.
“Even before I fought for the British title I more or less had to beat the top five on the road. But Pat Magee and John Rooney are pushing all the time for me to get the fights.”
And the fight they have secured for their charge appears to be gilt-edged. However, a shot at the vacant European crown against a well respected opponent, whose best years appear to be in the past, came after a difficult year for Magee.
“He certainly has been very unlucky, conceded Pat Magee, Brians manager.
“He gave up the British title voluntarily last March to save a show in Liverpool. When it came to Brian fighting the winner we ran into difficulties with the demise of Setanta.
“That was at the end of the boxing season in July so when September arrived we recognised the chance of Brian fighting for the European title and concentrated on that. Here we are it has come right for us. It is a tremendous opportunity for Brian to get into the World title picture if he wins this, which Im sure he will.”
Brian appears to share his managers confidence in the result – insisting that he will soon join fellow Irishmen Paul McCloskey and Matthew Macklin as European Champions.
“Definitely, Ill be the third alright,” he beamed.
Magee has been preparing for the contest in St Agnes Boxing Club the Andersonstown gym where he began his career many moons ago. The return comes following the end of a lengthy and successful association with Holy Trinitys Harry Hawkins.
“I left on good terms with Harry and Mickey (Hawkins),” he said.
“I can call into the club anytime I want to catch up with the guys. Alex Doherty still works with me on conditioning as well and comes down and trains with me. But Im now being trained by Bernardo Checa.”
Two weeks into the new relationship respected Panamanian Checa, who does an impressive sideline in magic tricks, is happy with what he sees.
“I have been impressed,” he said.
“He is a quick learner. I correct mistakes. I dont want to change his style but I want to work on a few things. Larsen is a southpaw too. He is no bad fighter, world class, but I think his time has passed now. This is a big opportunity for Brian and I think he will take it.”
The return to St Agnes has understandably brought back childhood memories for Magee, who turned 34 in June.
“I can remember the first time I came here and there are still old photos of me up on the wall from then,” he said.
“A few things have changed but I was skipping the other day and got a flashback of when I was a kid training here. When I was young I didnt think this far ahead. When you are young the dream is to box in the Olympics never mind being a professional and making a living from it.”