Category: Archive

Magee tries to hook into New York fight scene

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

The stylish southpaw, who enters the ring dressed in the garb of “Matrix” star Keanu Reeves, complete with long black coat and dark shades, spoke highly of the brief camp, during which he sparred with several top New York-based fighters.
He was gushing last Sunday over a six-round session he had with classy World Boxing Council cruiserweight champion Wayne Brathwaite at a Manhattan gym the day before.
” I gave a good account of myself,” Magee, who’s 28, said.
He may be as anonymous on these shores as the fringe title he’s held for two years, but the undefeated Magee (21-0, 16 KOs) is determined to make his name known in the United States.
There certainly was interest in the Belfastman at Gleason’s on the Brooklyn waterfront, where his workouts with a variety of southpaws and orthodox fighters usually drew crowds within the confines of the famed gym.
The New York stint was part of Team Magee’s plan to broaden their charge’s training as he zeroes in on the 168-pound division’s better known champions in search of recognition. In his corner are British promoter Barry Hearn and Sky-TV, which broadcast his fights across Europe.
“We’re trying to get him into a position as the mandatory contender for the WBC title,” trainer Harry Hawkins said in an interview at a Queens hotel where Magee and his handlers were ensconced.
Magee is ranked No. 9 by the WBC, whose champion is the aging German Markus Beyer, and eighth by the WBA, which recognizes another German, Sven Ottke, as its titlist. Ottke also holds the IBF crown, while Welshman Joe Calzaghe is the WBO king.
At this moment, the strategy for Magee earning a crack at one of his more illustrious peers is rather simple: keep on winning.
He’s highly favored to retain the IBO crown against Elliott at the raucous Kings Hall, Barry McGuigan’s former stomping ground and, as touted by Hawkins, Irish boxing’s equivalent to Madison Square Garden.
“I don’t know much about him, but he seems to have a good record,” Magee said of his next challenger, who only last week replaced Nordin Ben-Saleh on the card after the latter injured his elbow.
Elliott, who’s spent most of his 10-year pro career as a middleweight, is a 27-year-old Nigerian fighting out of Karnten, Austria. He has a decent 37-3-1 (win, loss, draw) record and appears to be a banger, going by the 27 KOs on his ledger, but he’s coming off a ninth-round TKO loss to Evans Oure Ashira in Germany last September.
Elliott also hasn’t faced the same quality of opponents that have gone up against and lost emphatically to Magee.
According to Hawkins and another handler, John Rooney, Magee has probably not lost more than three or four rounds total in his entire five-year career.
“Brian’s a great brain and can read a fight,” said Hawkins, who’s trained Magee since the IBO champ was a kid. “He’s a very intelligent southpaw and the straight left, straight down the middle, is his main punch.”
Magee also has a good right hook, “his best punch in the amateurs,” Hawkins added, and a good defense.
He has only been down once in the pros, but got off the canvas after being caught cold by Chris Nembhard to dust off the Jamaican in six heats, nearly three years ago.
Magee turned pro in 1999 after a stellar amateur career that included five senior All-Irish titles at middleweight. He was a quarterfinalist at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and capped his career in the unpaid ranks by winning a silver medal at the European Championships in 1999.
More significantly, though, in terms of a future superfight in the United States, Magee was one of the last people to defeat Jeff Lacy, the highly regarded super middleweight from Florida, who’s ranked fifth by both the WBC and WBA.
The 26-year-old Lacy is 16-0 with 13 KOs in the pros, and heavily tipped to become a world champion.
“We hope he [Lacy] keeps on winning. That will be a big fight for us in America,” said Hawkins, recalling Magee’s points victory over Lacy in the Muhammad Ali Cup in Louisville six years ago.
Yet before all this comes to pass, Magee will first have to get past Elliott, a task that Hawkins believes will be made easier by their New York camp.
“It has been beneficial and I’m confident that it will show in this fight,” he said.

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