They say legendary coach John Breen has seen and done it all in professional boxing, but that’s not quite true.
The 69-year-old started coaching in Barney Eastwood’s Castle Street gym in 1989 and has worked with five world champions over the years. He has also coached Irish, British and European champions along the way, but he has never maneuvered a female to title success.
That is something he is certain will change come September 28 as Cathy McAleer [3(1)-0] challenges for the Commonwealth title at the Europa Hotel.
The former kickboxing and karate world champion fights for her first boxing title on top of an MHD bill – and Breen is confident she will win and see him break new ground at the age of 69.
“This is Cathy’s fight and a big one for her, but yes It will be my first female title and that will mean something to me,” Breen told Irish-Boxing.com.
For Breen to add female title success to his long list of accolades McAleer first has to win the fight.
However, the veteran coach is adamant his fighter will dethrone Scot Kristen Fraser [6(2)-0] despite being 10 years her senior and a big underdog.
“The 10 rounds will suit her, her fitness levels and style more than it would suit any other fighter. I was worried when she first came to me because of her age, but she is fit and dedicated.
“Now I am always confident with Cathy because I know she is tough and she is very fit. She’ll not get tired, the other girl may do, but Cathy will be strong from the first to the last bell,” he adds before producing a stock answer with regard to tactical approach on the night.
“We will do what suits ourselves. Cathy can box and that’s an option, but if we have to fight you have seen she can do that.”
Having worked through booms and busts in Belfast boxing, Breen is aware of how difficult it is for fighters to secure title shots.
Indeed, he is currently trying to secure another of his charges, Feargal McCrory a breakthrough fight – and in that regard he admits surprise how quickly this chance came about for three-fight novice McAleer.
“I was surprised Mark Dunlop got this chance so quick for her, it’s great. Any fighter would be delighted with a shot at this belt, but most men wouldn’t get the chance so quickly. It’s really great for Cathy. The Commonwealth title opens doors – who knows what a win could do. I am over the moon for her. What an opportunity,” he adds before hinting the rainbow belt may open passage to a world title shot.
“When Cathy came to me she explained she won two kick boxing world titles as well as a karate one. She had no problem telling me she wanted to do the same in boxing. This is a positive step toward that. It’s a major title and if she can win it, it opens doors.”