Grandad McGivern happy to shake off cobwebs ahead of Olympic charge


James McGivern only turned 21 at the start of the month but the Belfast lightweight was having something of a mid-life crisis on Saturday night!

The St George’s talent claimed his second Ulster Elite title, winning the light welterweight crown at the Ulster Hall, and McGivern was shocked to find out that he was the star, the main man at the championships.

McGivern, who claimed bronze at the Commonwealth Games earlier this year, defeated Dylan Duffy to grab the title and would joke afterwards that he was part of the ‘old guard’ on the night.

“I heard people talking about the ‘new breed’ and it made me go ‘Fuck! Am I the old breed? What’s going on?'” he laughed afterwards.

“I’m an oul fella now, I’m walking around with grey hairs here so I am,” added the fighter who was the lead part of the BBC fight report.

READ: James McGivern claims second title in amateur boxing showpiece

In fairness to old man McGivern, there were a number of big names that chose not to enter the tournament this year through injury, a focus on the Irish Elite Seniors, or other reasons.

However, the South Belfast slickster admitted that he needed to shake the rust off before he attacks the National Stadium next month.

McGivern is a big picture sort of person and explained that “the Olympics are the big goal, this is a minor step on the way. It sounds harsh to say but it [the Olympics] is the big thing.”

“I’ve the Irish [Seniors] next month then it’s the European [Games], Worlds, then the Olympics.”

“This is just a warm up for the Irish [Seniors]. I hadn’t fought since Germany – I had a multi-nations there but it wasn’t anything special. It was good to get in there and get some proper competition.”

“It was business as usual, really, a wins a win and we move onto the next one. I’m back and ready to go now.”

McGivern was given a very tough workout by his long-term friend Duffy of the Pegasus club, eventually picking up a 4-1 split win, and he noted how “he’s a strong customer, Dylan, he can hit hard so I had to keep moving.”

“I worked out my gameplan after about a minute of the first round, Dylan had to come forward because I had the big long range so he was trying to rush forward and rush forward so I was just picking him off on the move. I wasn’t going to stop moving.”

The Ulster Elite Seniors were the first Irish competition to feature the ‘new’ Olympic weight limits, with the 56kg class moving up to 57kg and the 64kg division moving down to 63kg.

Light flyweight [49kg] and McGivern’s old stomping ground of lightweight [60kg] remained on the roster but will not feature at the Olympics so the classy southpaw has elected to move up to light welter.

While it’s not ideal at present, it’s a move that may work out long-term for McGivern who described how “this is the weight now, if I hadn’t have had to box at 63kg I would have boxed at 60kg but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”

“Definitely [it will suit me]. I’m up now to about 66kg when I’m ‘walking about’ – I still probably have about a kilo to put on, muscle-wise. It does give me a bit of breathing space, it’s handy in that way but, come 2020 I’ll be stronger again.”

Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglieliminotti – 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