James McGivern eased his way to Irish title number ten – La Décima as he described it – on Friday night at the National Stadium.
There was definitely some Spanish-style flair from the stylish southpaw who cruised to the National Under 22 title with a wide unanimous decision victory over Jack Kelly.
The Belfast talent had stopped the same opponent in an inter-county bout earlier this month. This time round Kelly would receive two public warnings for the gumshield in the second, and took a count in the third. In fairness to the tenacious Dub, he kept coming forward and did land a huge shot on McGivern in the closing seconds, but there was only one winner at the home of Irish boxing.
McGivern spoke to Irish-Boxing.com following the win and described how “I fought that lad there two weeks ago down in Belfast and stopped him in the second round, but that was up at 60kg, a wee club show. But he improved over the last couple of weeks, I think he knew more what he was coming in to.”
“I’m not going to say it was the hardest fight of my life, but it wasn’t the easiest either. I got caught there with my hands down around my arse,” he added with a chuckle.
While he had beaten the opponent before, McGivern noted how he was still highly motivated going into the clash. The St George’s 19 year old explained that motivation is no issue “when it’s a day like this, where there’s a belt involved, and the crowd is probably the biggest crowd I’ve ever boxed in front of.”
“Then after the last time I boxed 56kg, everyone was questioning ‘is he still what he used to be.’ So hopefully I’ve answered a few questions there and people can remember who I am again.”
McGivern is referring to his loss to Eamer Coughlan in the quarter finals of the National Under-18 Championships last August, which meant he missed out on selection for the World Youth Championships and saw his decorated underage career end on sour note. The Commonwealth Youth gold and European Youth silver medalist recalled how “I had tonsillitis the week leading up to that fight. I was over in the corner there and I was thinking ‘I shouldn’t be doing this, this guy is a work horse, he’s a strong kid’ – but you’re in the fight game so you fight.”
Now up in the adult ranks, the slippery Ulster teen is enjoying the removal of headgear, and admitted that “I prefer it without it [headguards], when you land shots you feel it a lot more, you feel it a lot cleaner, and it’s good for slipping shots, especially with me being a counter puncher. As you saw there I was able to move my head and get around and not get hit with too many shots – bar one at the end there!”
McGivern wowed the National Stadium last Summer when he featured as a late call-up in a test international with Russia. Indeed he has long been tipped for stardom by major figures in Irish boxing, including the likes of Mick Conlan.
That said, McGivern is in no rush, and the mature youngster intends to keep developing for the time being. He revealed that “I was going to do the Seniors, but there’s a European Championships for this [Under 22 level] in March.”
“The Seniors are going to be there the year after, and the year after that, so I’m going to take my time and not jump into anything early. I don’t want people to dictate my career, it’s my career, I’m the one fighting.”
Eric Donovan joins Gavan Casey and Joe O’Neill on Episode 2 of the Irish Boxing Show: