“People said I’d never win a fight” – The rise of Graham McCormack
Graham McCormack [8(1)-2(1)] was told he’d never win a pro fight so winning a second career title in Waterford this weekend would be beyond massive for the Limerick native.
The Treaty southpaw will look to become a two-weight BUI Celtic champion when he takes on Craig McCarthy [9(1)-1(1)-1] in a massively anticipated Munster maul at the SETU Arena on Saturday night.
The belt on the line in Waterford can be often seen as a stepping stone strap, a title you win early in your career that opens doors to bigger opportunities.
For McCormack – and most likely McCarthy considering he too is mid 30s and was close to retiring last year – it means much much more. In clichéd parlance, it’s the ‘G-Train’s’ world title and not because he lacks the ability to progress beyond, indeed a victory here could set up an Irish title shot, more due to the fact making it to the pro ring was a battle in itself.
McCormack had to start winning in life again before he could even consider winning in the ring and by the time he’d climbed enough life hurdles to be fit to climb through the ropes, he was 30.
Starting at that age with an amateur career interrupted by jail time, not too much was expected of him. He has proved himself more than an entertaining addition to the scene in recent years, not least when he picked up the BUI Celtic middleweight title, and winning on Saturday would only help him cement a legacy of real domestic note.
“I know it’s a big thing for Craig but it’s massive for me. People said I’d never win a fight never mind a second title at a second weight,” he tells Irish-Boxing.com.
“This is f*cking huge for me. It’s another chapter in my crazy life. Honestly, my life has been crazy, a real rollercoaster ride and this is another part of my mad journey.
“Hats off to Craig for taking the fight, I’m really looking forward to it and I know I’ll be winning my second title on April 8th. It would be an unbelievable achievement.”
That added sense of importance also comes from the fact the Shaun Kelly-trained IGB boxer was seriously pondering his fight future at one stage this year.
“I felt like I let myself down in the Fearghus Quinn fight. I performed very badly and wondered if there was more to give. I asked myself ‘do I want to keep going?’. Then I sat down with my family and my team and there is more to give. I have that hunger and buzz back and I’m so grateful to be getting another chance to win a title.”
McCarthy found himself in a similar position last year but wasn’t just thinking about retirement, the Déise fighter was told he’d never fight again.
It means the Waterford native is set for a potential redemption story of his own this weekend, although McCormack is keen to point out he can’t be beaten in a game of overcoming hardship top trumps.
“I seen his brother say ‘Graham hasn’t been what Craig’s been through, he broke his legs’. Listen, I’ve been through more than anyone I’ve ever come across in my life. I’m lucky to be alive, never mind breaking your legs I’m lucky to be walking. If he thinks it’s going to come down to that I won’t be out-hustled or worked by anyone, so let’s see. “