By Jay Mwamba
Eddie McLoughlin rang in the new year the same way he hopes to spend next Friday night at the Elks Club in Queens — beating up on a compliant target.
The ex-amateur fighter with a prosthetic leg skipped the holiday fanfare to spend a few more days pounding away at a punching bag, ahead of his $20,000 Jan. 15 challenge match against a rival trainer with two artificial hips.
"He’s ready to do battle," declared Alo Kelly, the 20-year-old Irish Ropes BC prospect who’s been preparing his mentor for this unique match up against John Toliaferro.
The Mayo-born McLoughlin, who’s 42, lost his right leg in a motorcycle crash at age 19. At the time, he was headed to the welterweight final in the 1975 European Junior Championships.
McLoughlin concurred with his youthful trainer before a New Year’s eve workout at their private gym, a stone’s throw from the Elk’s Club on Queens Boulevard.
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"I’ve lost 20 pounds over the last five or six weeks, running on the treadmill," said McLoughlin, who is down to 180 pounds but may still enter the ring some five pounds heavier than the 5-foot-8 Toliaferro.
Both McLoughlin and Kelly concede that Toliaferro will have an early edge on speed in the scheduled three-round winner-take-all bout.
"He looks fast and very fit," said Kelly, who’s watched Toliaferro, an ex-Chicago pro, in training at Gleason’s gym.
"But we’ll go against him with power," Kelly said. "I don’t think he’ll last the distance."
McLoughlin, who threw down the gauntlet at Toliaferro to settle a little feud between the two at Gleason’s, has pledged to donate a part of the purse, if he wins, to St. Teresa’s church in Sunnyside, Queens. The church is run by Fr. Colm Campbell.