Tyler McCreary is the man from Ohio aiming to effectively end the career of Carl Frampton. Danny Flexen talks to his trainer, Lamar Wright
Lamar Wright still remembers the day he first saw Tyler McCreary. The trainer approached the amateur tournament like any other, hoping his kid would win, but something was different about the opponent and it wasn’t just the eye-catching talent the youth displayed. This adolescent seemed as interested in his rival’s trainer as the guy he was actually fighting and maintained a running verbal battle with Wright throughout the bout.
“Tyler was 12 or 13, boxing on the other side of town at another gym,” the friendly Wright recalls. “I actually had one of my guys fought Tyler, and Tyler was talking a lot of stuff to me in the corner, he paid attention to me the whole time, we were going back and forth. I thought, ‘Who is this little kid?!’ He was full of confidence and he ended up in my gym. He called the guy he had fought and said, ‘Would your coach train me?’ The kid came back and asked me and I said yeah. I knew Tyler was a special talent; but my kid won.”
Now they are winning together, McCreary and Wright. The man from Toledo, Ohio won a number of regional and national amateur tournaments before turning pro in 2014 and has accrued 16 victories and a draw thus far. The 26-year-old recently found out his team had secured what is his greatest test and highest profile battle so far, when he faces former two-weight world champion Carl Frampton on November 30 in Las Vegas, in what is a self-professed make-or-break fight for the Belfast man.
“It came out of the blue but I was also lobbying for it,” Wright reveals. “I would see other guys getting opportunities and I was saying, ‘We’re ready for something like this.’ I was shocked when it happened but I wana thank [promoter] Top Rank, [manager] James Prince and, of course Carl Frampton.
“I’ve always looked at the top guys in the lighter weights and I saw Carl before his US debut, I’ve seen his US debut, I’ve seen him fight Leo Santa Cruz; he’s a world-class fighter, but if we want to get to a title he is the type of guy we need to beat.
“Tyler is very comfortable at 130lbs, in the amateurs he fought at 125 and it was getting hard to put that 126 into his frame coz he’s big, 5ft 9 1/2ins. He had a long layoff [of almost a year], and when he came back we made the decision. His first fight this year was made at 127 1/2 then we decided it was a good time to move up. We’re still the bigger man, I don’t know what the 128lbs catchweight is about for Frampton, but we’re very comfortable.”
Wright believes his man is a rounded operator with the ability to both box and trade. He praises McCreary’s boxing IQ in particular, something that he will need to harness against an intelligent and experienced fighter like Frampton. Perhaps the pivotal factor, however, could be the inner steel and resiliency Tyler possesses, something born of the tough childhood he endured.
“Tyler has a great personality, he’s just a joy to be around, a great human being,” Wright explains, with pride evident in every observation. “He loves to mentor the kids in the gym, and that’s because of where he came from. He had a challenging upbringing, and it shows he doesn’t have to be a product of his environment. Most kids who went through what he did are in prison or dead. It’s a success just to be where he’s at now.”