Welterweight Peter McDonagh, boxing’s latest Cinderella Man, will appear on July 9 at the Manchester Arena – as the part of the blockbuster Tyson Fury vs. Wladimir Klitschko show – and is hopeful of securing a shot at the European title in the coming months.
McDonagh, now 38, has been a professional since 2002 and has fought a who’s who of the lightweight, super-lightweight and welterweight divisions. He has had his ups and his downs and is a three-time Irish champion. He currently rides a nine-fight win-streak and admits he’s feeling better than ever.
“When I turned pro at 24, people said, ’How long do you think you can do it?’” he begins. “I said, ’Look, I could be finished after one fight, or I could have 80. You never know.’ You just listen to your body and see how you feel.
“Three years ago, in 2013, I lost my sister to breast cancer and came really close to retiring from boxing. But I went over to the MGM gym in Marbella and told my manager, Daniel Kinahan, I was going to retire. He said, “Don’t retire, give it one more shot and see how you go.” I was on a losing streak and everything. But, as soon as I hooked up with the MGM and my manager, it all changed. I went from strength to strength. I’m unbeaten in nine now. I’ve won three titles since I’ve been with them and I’ve still got the desire to go on and win bigger titles.”
McDonagh continues: “I’m in the top fifteen of the European rankings, so there’s a good chance I’ll get a shot at the European title. That’s the plan. That’s what we’re hoping for. Now I’m on the right side of the card it makes a massive difference. I’m no longer taking fights at short-notice against kids much bigger than me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m beating good kids with that sort of notice, or, if I lose, I’m losing very close fights, but it’s a different story if you give me a full camp.
“I’m a promoted and managed fighter now. How far can I go? Let’s see. I’ve beaten champions. I beat the kid who beat Luke Campbell (Yvan Mendy) but didn’t get the decision. I beat Michele Di Rocco and never got the decision. I beat Lee Purdy. I beat Michael Gomez. I beat Dean Byrne. I know what level I’m at – I just need the opportunity. Physically, I feel the best I’ve ever felt; age is just a number.”
Fitness and ambition aside, few fighters in Britain are able to boast McDonagh’s wealth of experience. Indeed, his appearance on July 9 won’t even mark the first time he has featured on a world heavyweight title bill.
“I was on the David Haye versus John Ruiz bill at the Manchester Arena,” he says. “I was on just before the main event. But obviously it’s a lot different this time around. This is the heavyweight championship of the world, not just one of the belts. This is much, much bigger. And it’s Tyson Fury and Wladimir Klitschko. That also makes it special. Klitschko is a legend of the sport and one of the real icons. I don’t think a promoter has brought someone of that stature to England for many years. It’s exciting.”
As for the result of the night’s main event, McDonagh can see only one winner.
“I see it being a totally different fight to the first one,” he says. “I think Wladimir will come and bring it to Tyson and then he’ll walk on to a big shot in about seven or eight rounds. All Tyson has to do is keep his composure, take his time and he’ll knock him out.”
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June 3, 2016