Return of the Mac Attack – Big Tommy to make comeback on Saturday


One of Belfast’s most talented fighters will finally make his return to the ring this Saturday night.

A day short of one whole year on since his last fight, cruiserweight Tommy McCarthy [11(6)-1(0)] will be back between the ropes at the Shorts Sports and Social Club on the Holywood Road. Having had a change of management, linking up with fight boss Mark Dunlop, McCarthy will have a comeback six-round bout on the ‘Back in Belfast’ card where he will look to kick off the next chapter of his career.

Boxing in Belfast has gone from strength to strength over the last twelve months but McCarthy has been forced to sit on the sidelines as numerous big shows took place in the city. It was a frustrating period for the Lenadoon big man but he is hopeful that a link-up with Dunlop will see his career fortunes change for the better.

McCarthy, who recently turned 28, explained how “Mark Dunlop is my new manager and there’s no better man for the job. I really believe in him and I’m excited about 2019. It’s been an awful year for me as regards to boxing but I’ve had great experiences in the camps I’ve been to sparring with the best in the world,” he added referring to time spent overseas as part of the training camps of elite level talents such as Mairis Briedis, Carlos Takam, Beibut Shumenov, Hughie Fury, and Tony Bellew among others.

While he has been out of sight for the past year, McCarthy remains one of the most skilled and highly-rated operators on the domestic scene and is eager to get amongst the title fights as soon as possible having watched the division boom in his absence. Olympian Lawrence Okolie is the current British champion while there are plenty of other big names such as Isaac Chamberlain, Luke Watkins, Wadi Camacho, Arfan Iqbal, and Matty Askin – the only man to defeat McCarthy.

The Commonwealth silver medallist is keen to remind people what they have been missing and notes how “it’s so frustrating to see because, at the turn of the year, I was ahead of most of these guys in the rankings and now there’ll all in big fights, on big shows, and they’re making strides while I’m still going around sparring people. Okolie as well, all those novices he was knocking out, it’s be a different ball game with me. Okolie is a big, strong powerhouse but his boxing leaves a lot to be desired. I’m very experienced, he’s only new to boxing, I’ve been boxing since I was 12. I think I beat him.”

“This fight is really just to get me back on the scene. You can do all the sparring in the gym you want – but being in the ring competitively is completely different. I just want the feeling of being under the lights, small gloves, no headguard, and all that. I want to get back into championship level straight away. I’m good enough. I believe I’m above all the fellas at home. I want to be back up to championship level and ten and twelve rounds.”

New manager Dunlop is excited to have teamed up with McCarthy. The MHD boss has worked wonders for a number of Belfast fighters in recent years – including guiding Lagmore lightweight Paul Hyland Jr to a British title shot and winning Irish, Commonwealth, and European titles with Poleglass super featherweight James Tennyson who challenged for a world title in Boston last month.

Dunlop said that “I’m delighted that Tommy McCarthy has given me the job of guiding his boxing career. Tommy McCarthy has been with two great teams and I’m sure I will work as hard to equal their successes. Tommy has done quite bit of his boxing away and I aim to build him up locally where his fans can come and watch him and get behind him. Tommy has not fought for a title of any sort yet as a professional so that would be an aim of mine for early next year. In my opinion he needs another three or four fights then look at the major titles on offer. He is a young man in hurry, but I will be pulling the reins back for a little while yet but I am looking forward to 2019 with him. All the lads in the stable are delighted that Tommy has joined the team, by his own admission things have been quiet this year for him and he just want to look forward and not back.”

The Luke Wilton headlined card also features a full undercard alongside McCarthy. Making their professional debuts are teenage Larne super featherweight Kelvin McDonald and Belfast super flyweight Cathy McAleer, the first Northern Irish female pro in almost 20 years, and there are further appearances from East Belfast welter Tony Nellins, Antrim Town cruiserweight Conor Cooke, and Scottish cruiserweight David Jamieson.

Limited tickets for the night remain, are priced at £30 (unreserved) and £40 (ringside), and are available from all the boxers involved. Tommy McCarthy can be contracted through his social media or by ringing him at 07548559506.

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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