|Boxing Report: Brian Magee defeats Stevie McGuire
By Daniel Cann (Dec 14, 2008) DoghouseBoxing.com
In a stirring contest filled with drama and incident Belfast’s Brian Magee finally lifted the British Super-Middleweight belt vacated by new WBC World Champion Carl Froch. In Glenrothes’ Stevie McGuire he faced a determined but inexperienced foe whose fourteen fights amounted to less than half of the fights Magee had amassed in a career spanning almost ten years. What he lacked in experience the twenty seven year old McGuire more than made up for in raw courage and determination and Magee had his hands full for much of the duration of the contest.
For Magee it was a real crossroads fight, he had come back down from the Light-Heavyweight division after a disputed draw for that division’s British title against Tony Oakey. Defeat here would surely end his title ambitions as well as his career. He entered the ring to the strains of AC/DC and looked loose and focussed. As he squared up to his younger opponent in mid ring the height he was giving away was apparent, his shaven-skulled and tattooed opponent exuded confidence despite his inexperience and the fact that this was the first time he found himself in a scheduled twelve round contest. McGuire in black and green shorts bounced on his toes and had the aura of a man who was ready, apparently he had a tough training camp and his display of courage and rugged determination would later attest to that. Magee wearing black and red trunks had seen it all before and revelled in the support of his fellow Irishmen who had made the journey to the arena in Essex.
From the first bell they launched themselves at each other and collided, falling into an inelegant clinch. At the break it was noticeable both were tall, rangy boxers that held their gloves high. The only contrast in style was McGuire fought out of the orthodox stance and Magee is of course a southpaw. This clash of styles would make it an untidy spectacle at times and referee Richie Davies would have to work hard for the contests duration.
It was a positive start from McGuire as he attempted to take control from the centre of the ring. There was more clinching and it was clear that the boxers were trying to settle and work the other one out. McGuire landed a decent right to the body, then let both hands go in a two fisted assault. Magee landed good counters and again they fell into an untidy clinch. It was even stuff and both had tasted leather. McGuire ended the round with a slight cut, which was more of a graze on his right eye. It was a bright start nonetheless but Magee’s punches were notably sharper.
McGuire emerged from his corner for round two with a glob of grease over his damaged eye. He tried to work off his jab early, but again Magee was countering well. Suddenly a two fisted assault from McGuire sent Magee back, but the man from Belfast showed a tight defence and a calm experienced ring brain. A pattern was now emerging as McGuire looked to force the pace and Magee slotting home some hurtful counters. McGuire’s punches were straight and he was going forward in straight lines, giving Magee an inviting target. There was not much variety from the young man from Glenrothes but plenty of spirit. He finally had success with shorter hooks inside as he kept his work-rate high. As the round ended I wondered what would prevail, the volume and pressure of McGuire’s work, or the cleaner single shots from Magee?
The third again saw the boxers holding their gloves high and circling each other warily. Quick bursts of action would be followed by clinches as their styles clashed. It was a tense absorbing affair rather than an exciting one, but I was hooked and fascinated to see who would prevail. McGuire was busy with his jab and followed up with some rights, with only four knockouts on his record he was not a puncher, but I wondered if he could keep up this pressure would Magee’s stamina be tested after dragging his thirty three year old body back down to Super-Middleweight? There were plenty of questions floating around in my head and I would soon have the answers.
Despite succeeding in driving Magee back with his frenzied assaults, the Irishman looked calm and in control at all times. There were no signals of distress coming from him and he countered with a lusty wallop to his opponent’s body after taking a left hook. Again McGuire was going forward in a straight line and catching leather as he came inside. Another right to the body caught McGuire late in the round, but I gave him the round on sheer work-rate and persistence.
The fourth saw both men targeting the head as they exchanged jabs from different stances. A good two punch combination from McGuire sent Magee back. It was getting rough in close and Magee emerged from a clinch complaining to the referee that he had been butted. Their heads were coming in close together and Magee had a nasty cut on the bridge of his nose, which brought to mind a similar, but far more severe injury Colin Jones suffered against Donald Curry way back in 1985. Magee kept his cool however, landing a decent right hook. The fight was definitely heating up. McGuire kept charging forward but walked onto another fast, accurate right hook for his troubles. There was another clash of heads in the last thirty seconds or so of the round. A bit of needle was entering the contest. At the bell McGuire’s cut right eye had worsened and Magee’s cut on his nose was bleeding freely. Both corners would be busy in the interval.
At the beginning of the fifth referee Richie Davies rightly told the boxers to clean it up a bit, he read them both the riot act just in time as it could have got uglier had he not stamped his authority on proceedings. Both men were dangerous with their heads whether it was intentional or not, their styles just clashed and they were often a tangle of arms as they tried to work in close. McGuire again drove Magee back with another assault, there was another clinch and at the break Magee used single accurate jabs to pick off the onrushing McGuire. The young Scotsman perhaps should have been standing off and boxing more using his natural height and reach advantages. Whether it was youthful bravado or instructions from his corner he continued to elect to mix it up with his more experienced foe.
Magee landed a decent body shot but again his nose started to bleed heavily which clearly distressed him as he dabbed anxiously away at it. In this round it was noticeable that Magee was having more success with his counters as he mixed shots well to body and head. McGuire ended the round with another spirited attack but I noticed it was having no detrimental effect on Magee who landed a decent left before the bell. Their heads came dangerously close again and that was probably the real worry for Magee, picking up an injury more than anything else as his class was beginning to tell.
There was better work from McGuire at the start of the sixth, he seemed more measured and it was clear he was thinking and looking for openings instead of steaming in. the two clinched again. McGuire threw a decent double jab and this time Magee’s timing was a little off with his counters. This impression soon changed as Magee suddenly crashed a devastating right to his opponents floating rib and McGuire went down like the proverbial sack of potatoes. There was about a minute of the round to go and although wincing in pain and his eyes wide in disbelief McGuire bravely got to his feet at about eight. This spurred Magee into action and McGuire had to hold on and try to smother his antagonist’s work. McGuire showed plenty of character and bravery as he rallied back shortly after the knockdown but another hurtful right to the body connected late in the round to send McGuire down again, doubled over in pain. The bell sounded but the count continued, somehow the lad from Glenrothes picked himself up at about six or seven and trudged despondently back to his corner. It was a terrible set back for McGuire who saw all of his good work and pressure of the earlier rounds laid to waste by a few excellently timed and placed body shots from his much more experienced opponent.
The seventh opened with McGuire still going forward, but tellingly Magee had the look of the hunter in his eyes and he bided his time, looking for fresh openings. Magee was working the body and there was some borderline stuff going in. One punch to the top of McGuire’s cup had him protesting and remonstrating with referee Davies who ordered them both to box on but also told Magee to keep his punches up. There were clear distress signals coming from the Scot and I wondered if he could fight through this crisis. So far he had shown willingness and a great heart, but would that be enough against a more seasoned foe? Magee crashed a definite low left and McGuire went on his haunches in a corner as referee Davies rightly deducted a point from the Belfast fighter. McGuire was allowed time to recover and when they resumed action instead of going into his shell McGuire came right at Magee. It was brave stirring stuff but perhaps not the wisest of tactics. He threw combinations but kept getting caught by more energy sapping counters. There was more clinching and working on the inside. The bell sounded and McGuire was showing plenty of character and resolve but it looked like an uphill struggle for him.
McGuire jabbed at the start of the eighth while Magee patiently circled. Magee looked cagey, measuring his man, catching him again as he came forward. I wondered what fight we could have seen if McGuire stuck to his boxing and used his reach. It would not have been as exciting but it could have provided him with his best option for victory. McGuire continued to try and mix it. Their heads clashed yet again late in the round. It was noticeable that McGuire’s work-rate was dropping and the fight was getting more untidy and ragged.
Suddenly Magee found the punches he was looking for. A sharp right landed flush, then a straight left to the body followed by a final devastating right hook to the solar plexus sent McGuire down again. The brave fighter was doubled over in pain, his gloves cradling his head as he struggled to take in oxygen. There was no way back from this and the fight was stopped with no chance of him beating the referees’ count. The brave challenge was over.
For Magee it was a fantastic and much needed boost to his career. He was clearly delighted and it was a classy mature display that netted him the vacant crown. He had bided his time, stayed calm under pressure, picked his shots and slowly took his younger opponent apart with hurtful and rarely seen (these days) body shots. The crowd had enjoyed it and there were plenty of cheers of appreciation for an absorbing albeit untidy contest with plenty of incident.
Magee has re-launched his career and won the British title at the second attempt. His previous defeats have been to former World Champion Robin Reid and current World Champion Carl Froch, so no disgrace there. He fought a tactically sound fight and softened up his opponent for a big inside the distance win. He can surely look forward to more lucrative contests in the future, this being the platform needed for it.
As for Stevie McGuire he showed tremendous heart and bravery and kept going even when things were so stacked against him. He can certainly learn from this defeat and come again. He will now know what is needed for the big time. But the night and the title belonged to the man from Belfast, Brian Magee.
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