Ciaran McVarnock knew he was in the winter of his boxing career as far back as this Spring – weeks before he returned from a two-year ring sabbatical.
‘Bunty’ had taken time out from the game, turning down bouts with glove-wearing opponents to help his partner fight a much more dangerous foe in cystic fibrosis.
With girlfriend, Nicole Adams on the mend the Kevin Maree managed fighter returned to boxing and made a comeback against Jamie Quinn in Sheffield as recent as May.
Speaking in a very honest and open interview with Irish-boxing.com, when the fight was announced McVarnock revealed he was not only keen to return but determined to get active.
However, it seems once he got into the nitty-gritty of camp he noticed the fire had gone out. He thought his Fight Zone broadcast clash in the Sheffield Arena car park would re-ignite that fire and passion but that wasn’t the case.
“I decided to call it a day about one month before my fight, so around late April. I tried so hard to get that spark back and no matter what I did it wasn’t coming,” McVarnock explained to Irish-boxing.com.
“So pretty much I knew the four weeks leading up to my fight in Sheffield were my last. I was hoping come fight night that the fight and event itself would change everything and I would get that spark back. I felt then things would just change. I was happy and excited but I never got that feeling of ‘let’s go again’.”
It is a surprise move considering the New Lodge native is just 29-years-of-age.
McVarnock admits it hurts to hang them up for good and revealed it’s not what many around him want. However, he is aware boxing is a dangerous sport, particularly if you haven’t got that bit of bite about you.
“Going into the Quinn fight I knew this was the last dance, that’s the reason for the bad performance. While in there I was thinking ‘there is no point upping the gears and trying harder, I’m doing enough to win the round’.
“I should have never had those thoughts going through my head. No disrespect to Quinny but on another day, a day where I had the fire I would have made him look silly in there,” he adds before assuring it’s a personal decision.
“The first thing my partner said to my brother as soon as the bell went was ‘I don’t want him to retire. I want him to keep fighting’. To be honest that hurts a little because still to this day she keeps telling me stay in Manchester. She keeps telling me to just continue and don’t give it up but it’s time to call it a day. No one knows that unique feeling that you have to have to compete in such a grueling sport,” he adds before declaring there will be no comeback.
Things didn’t quite play out as McVarnock planned when he first turned over but he leaves the game proud of what he achieved and the effort and determination he showed to achieve it.
“To be honest when I look back at [my career] I’m proud. I only had nine amateur fights before I turned over. I sacrificed a lot and moved to Manchester, I did it the hard way, it was a struggle and I kept going.
“What I went through… I don’t think many others could do it. Boxing is the hardest sport in the world and to move away from home to do it is a lot harder. I fought on TV, I shared the ring sparring with some great great fighters and I was promoted by a Hall of Fame promoter at the start of my career. I also become friends with some fantastic fighters and made connections for life.