Tommy McCarthy calls for concentration against “absolute melter” before big Matchroom chance

March 2nd will be the most important night in the professional career of Tommy McCarthy [12(6)-1(0)] but the Belfast cruiserweight must first overcome an “absolute melter” this Saturday.

It has been confirmed that ‘The Mac Attack’ will challenge WBA Inter-Continental champion and World #12 Richard Riakporhe [8(7)-0] on a Matchroom JDNXTGEN card in Peterborough, live on Sky Sports.

However, McCarthy needs to defeat veteran Czech journeyman Jiri Svacina [13(2)-33(8)] on the MHD Promotions ‘A Night To Remember’ card at the Ulster Hall this weekend.

Two fights in four weeks, the Lenadoon counter-puncher knows that he can’t afford a slip-up of any kind on Saturday night.

A loss would be a disaster – but even the most minor of injuries or cuts could wreak havoc for McCarthy who explained to how “this fight on March 2nd is the most important fight of my career so I need to make sure I come through Saturday unscathed.”

“Obviously it’s unbelievable news and I’m delighted with it but I just have to try concentrate on Saturday night.”

“I want to go in and perform but I have to be cautious not to get any cuts or any injuries because it’s such a quick turnaround.”

41-year-old Svacina usually gives a good account of himself and commonly sneaks a round or two from the away corner.

McCarthy admits that the Central European presents a headache and described how “he’s an absolute melter. I was watching him and he’s just a complete survivor. He’s like a puzzle that I’m going to have to figure out, he’s a wee bit of a nightmare.”

“It would be nice to stop him in the first round but it’s definitely going to have to be a safety first sort of job – but I want to do it in a slick way and put on a good show because it’s my first time boxing in the Ulster Hall and I’ve sold a lot of tickets and I’ve a lot of people coming to watch me.”

“It’s not going not be a case of me running and hiding, I want to get some good action but I have to be cautious too at the of the day.”

It will be McCarthy’s second fight since linking up with Mark Dunlop and his second fight since making the Kronk Gym and Tony Dunlop his Belfast base.

The West Belfast man is enjoying his new arrangement and detailed how “me and Tony have been training every day and we’ve been going down to Dublin for sparring, it’s great.”

“Ensley [Bingham] is going to come down and do the corner for the Riakporhe fight but I’ve just been training in Belfast Kronk, working away.”

“It’s been great, me and Tony get on great. Tony gives me the freedom to box – I know what to do, and he’s not trying to change much, just adding wee things and correcting wee mistakes. It’s good, it’s working out.”

Should McCarthy, as expected, negotiate the challenge of Svacina, it will be full steam ahead towards Riakporhe and the 28-year-old revealed that there is a path in place for him set by manager Mark Dunlop and Matchroom boss Eddie Hearn.

The Commonwealth silver medallist outlined that “basically it’s a two or three fight deal – if I win this fight then I’ll be on to something bigger and better and that will be with Matchroom and I’ll probably just continue on and keep winning, it’s kind of like a fight-by-fight basis.”

“And if the fight doesn’t go my way, they’re going to be bringing me back in a six or an eight rounder.”

Giant Londoner Riakporhe will present an awkward, and powerful, test for McCarthy.

However, the Irishman admits that he had not initially considered the Englishman as a potential opponent.

McCarthy explained how “I hadn’t even really thought about him because he hasn’t really done anything as a pro. He fought seven journeymen in four and six rounders then he fought Sam Hyde.”

“Sam is my friend, and that was his big step-up, when he won that belt, but I think in that fight he showed how raw he is.”

“He was never in my thought process and I was kind of surprised when it came up but it makes sense, he has the WBA Inter-Continental belt, he’s undefeated, and it was a case of ‘why haven’t I been thinking about him?'”

The cruiserweight division is one which is in flux, with undisputed champion Oleksandr Usyk set to step up to heavyweight and leave his four 200lbs belts behind.

The straps were likely to be distributed across the semi-finals of the World Boxing Super Series although, with the future of that tournament currently in doubt, the destination of the four belts is currently unsure.

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What is sure, though, is that it is a great time to be a cruiserweight and, with a world ranking on the line next month, McCarthy knows he can hold legitimate title hopes.

The Belfast big man notes how “It’d be a great opportunity to pick up a vacant title yeah, but even if Usyk wanted to stay at cruiserweight, winning this belt would put you in the position to fight Usyk.”

“No matter what, this opens doors and gets the ball rolling towards a world title shot.”


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Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on, Boxing News,, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: