The Italian Job – Tommy McCarthy claims career-changing upset win over Fabio Turchi

Tommy McCarthy has kick-started his career following a massive win in Italy tonight.

The Lenadoon big man challenged WBC International cruiserweight champion Fabio Turchi and claimed a well-deserved split-decision win.

The headline fight of a Matchroom and OPI Since 82 card at the PalaTrento in Trento, McCarthy was king of the mountain in the Alpine city following a performance in which he showed equal smarts and guts.

Growing into the fight, ‘The Mac Attack’ did damage in the mid rounds and boxed cleverly to take a narrow win on foreign soil.

The pair had been due to meet in July in Rome only for Turchi to pull out days beforehand through injury. McCarthy would box that night, obliterating late stand-in Francesco Cataldo.

This was McCarthy’s second win following his defeat to Richard Riakporhe in March while tonight was ‘Stone Crusher’ Turchi’s first fight since winning the belt via first-round stoppage over Sami Enbom in April.

The Florence fighter came in a favourite but underdog McCarthy was backing his recent link-up with Pete Taylor to enable him to make a major career breakthrough – and it was a solid bet, with the 28-year-old turning in a career-best performance.

It was a cagey opener in Northern Italy, with Turchi the aggressor but McCarthy knocking him slightly off balance with a bodyshot towards the close.

Turchi flew out in the second and was starting to find his range with heavy punches before McCarthy staged a fightback up close and buzzing the Italian with a right hand.

Warming up nicely, McCarthy boxed well in the third before a strong finish from Turchi but the Ulsterman would start to stamp his authority in the fourth and fifth, good rounds for the visitor.

Open scoring for the first four rounds, announced ahead of the sixth, had it split 39-37, 38-39, and 38-38 to Turchi.

Responding, Turchi pushed in the sixth but McCarthy was boxing sharply and was landing sneaky straight shots which puffed up the face of his opponent.

Electing to trade in a scrappy seventh, McCarthy was doing damage. A head clash bothered Turchi badly and the favoured fighter was starting to look ragged.

Slowing the pace in the eighth and picking his shots, the Commonwealth Games silver medallist was taking firm control of the contest.

Turchi wasn’t lying down and found his second wind in the ninth, landing a nice uppercut on the inside, but the better work was still coming from McCarthy.

Announcing the open scoring through eight, McCarthy was up on two cards 77-75 77-76 while one judge had it 77-74 to Turchi.

Into the tenth, the right hands of McCarthy would further close the left eye of Turchi and prompted a doctor’s inspection. Allowed to continue, the right hands would keep coming from McCarthy as the brave Turchi swung wildly. Another doctor’s inspection would be called and again Turchi would be passed to fight, seeing out the round but being hurt badly on the bell.

Turchi put on something of a last stand in the eleventh, bookended by good work from McCarthy as we entered a potentially decisive twelfth.

The Italian bulled forward at the start of the final round as McCarthy, now visibly tired, looked to box clever in a messy three minutes.

The final bell would ring and McCarthy was convinced he had done enough but, considering how close it was after eight – and with a strong ninth and eleventh for Turchi – it was far from sure.

Going to the cards, it was split – as expected – and McCarthy would claim the win with cards of 116-112 and 115-113 in his favour against a 116-112 for Turchi.

The massive win sees McCarthy improve to 16(8)-2(1) and pick up the WBC International title and likely assume Turchi’s #15 ranking with the body. The brave Italian drops to 17(13)-1(0) following a fight most would have no problems seeing again.

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