Best Boxer James McGivern – “Being the young man coming up, it was great to take that scalp”


James McGivern announced his arrival on the senior scene on Friday night at a packed-out Ulster Hall in style.

The 19 year old lightweight claimed the Ulster Elite title and the Best Boxer award at the championships following a classy win over Commonwealth Games bronze medalist Sean Duffy.

McGivern has been unbeaten for over a year, and has won all his fights as a Senior boxer, taking in multi-nations golds in Paris and Eindhoven – however Friday was the big one and the St George’s teen knows he has made a big statement.

Reflecting on the fight afterwards, McGivern noted how in “the [Commonwealth] Games in Glasgow, he won bronze, so he’s a well known boxer. For me, being the young man coming up, it was great to take that scalp.”

“No disrespect to Sean, that was an amazing performance by him there, it was a great fight, and he did not make it easy in any way, shape, or form.”

“He’s a come-forward fighter, he’s aggressive, so I knew I had to be on my toes, jab and moving.”

Duffy had moved down from light welterweight where he had won his Commonwealth medal, while this year McGivern moved up following his U22 Irish title win at bantamweight.

However, after two rounds of playing matador, McGivern chose to trade, and he explained how “I said to myself in the last round, ‘I want to go toe-to-toe.'”

“It’s something I don’t do a lot, but I want people to see that, yes, I’m a counter-puncher, I can box and move, but I’m no stranger to having a scrap.”

“I’m from the lower whack of the Ormeau Road, I’m a tough kid, and I’m not unaccustomed to having a scrap!”

McGivern won gold at the 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games in Apia, Samoa, but he knows that underage achievements mean little now.

“Listen,” he said. “The Youth Games were amazing, and what I did was amazing, I’m proud of it, but that’s in the past now, it’s gone.”

“I’m with the big boys know, this is the big leagues.”

“I just have to keep doing what I’m doing, I’m doing a lot of hard work with Danny Boyd and Jim McGivern my two club coaches and I’m doing strength and conditioning work, I’m training two or three times a day – then I’ll get to work with John Conlan and the Ulster High Performance Unit.”

“I’ll progress, then I’ll get that gold out in Australia.”

The Games on the Gold Coast are not until April – and his with his place unofficially secured following the win over Duffy – McGivern is keen to enjoy his achievement.

“Thanks to the Ulster Council – it’s been an amazing night,” said the ten-time Irish underage champion.

“Samoa was the last time I got really excited for a fight, tonight blew it out of the water.”

“The buzz about the place, up on the balcony were all my friends and family, one of my mates came over and he’s lost his voice!”

“This is going to be celebrated for a long time, we’re going to enjoy this, then when I get the gold in Australia we’re going to enjoy it even more.”

Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)

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Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie