McGirt regroups after 1st loss

There’s nothing more devastating in boxing that than a hot prospect’s first pro loss, especially for someone such as James McGirt, Jr. (18-1, 9 KOs), whose last name alone makes opponents perform better. McGirt suffered his first set-back April 11 when another son of a former world champion, Carlos “Baby Sugar” DeLeon, Jr. (20-2-2, 12 KOs), stopped James in the seventh round of their ShoBox co-feature..

DeLeon was floored by McGirt at the end of the sixth round, but he got to his feet just before the bell sounded. “When I dropped him, instead of listening to my father (head trainer “Buddy” McGirt), I got careless,” James explained. “I had him but dropped my right hand and got caught. My legs were a little wobbly, but I was more embarrassed than anything having been knocked down for the first time in my career. I thought that I could deal with it but got hit with an uppercut. I tried to wait it out, hoping he’d gotten tired punching, but I wasn’t punching back and the ref stopped the fight.

“The hardest thing in the world is to take your first loss. I still know that I’m going to be a world champion someday. This is part of the learning experience. No excuses. I should have listened and boxed. It’s a hard pill to shallow. I want a rematch, but I know it won’t happen right away. I won’t be able to sleep at night unless I fight him one more time.”

McGirt’s father, 2-time world champion “Buddy,” suffered his first pro loss in his 30th fight, as the No. 1 contender in the world, to Frankie Warren by 10-round decision. “I warned James last year that he was dropping his right hand too much,” Buddy noted. “You can’t take anything for granted. Once he knocked the other guy down, James thought that he had him, but he got caught by that left hook. It’s a great learning experience. I was talking to Roy Jones. He said at least it happened now or he would have kept doing it and now he’ll listen. James can’t have a flamboyant, relaxed attitude like he did in basketball. On the court he could be nonchalant, flashy, but you can’t do that in the ring. They’re always trying to beat Buddy McGirt’s son and Buddy McGirt. In a way I’m glad it happened. It’s going to be a good learning experience for James. I told him he should thank DeLeon for the wake-up call because he got lazy.

“Sure, it’s a hard pill to swallow. I saw the punch hit him and I can still visualize it like a picture in my mind. That night, James became a man, and not just in the ring. Taking nothing away from DeLeon, James had the fight and should have won. Now he has to put it behind him and move forward. After a first loss, you either become a better fighter, or get out of the game. James’ eyes were opened. You can’t do what he did in basketball, not in this business, and now he understands. What he does from here on will determine what he is in boxing.”

McGirt may have been more comfortable making weight and fighting as a super middleweight, but the plan is for him to slowly move back to the middleweight division. “His opponents at super middleweight are too big,” McGirt’s manager Dennis Witherow explained. “I talked with Buddy after the fight and we agree that James needs to fight as a middleweight. They weighed-in the same weight but, in the fight, the difference in their weight made a big difference. He’ll fight at 162-163 in his next fight, hopefully in July. We’re going forward, not looking backwards. The loss is part of the learning process, a bump in the road. He got caught and that’s just part of the game.”

Buddy added, “The last two days (prior to the fight) James just shadow-boxed. He didn’t run or train, ate right before the weigh in, and came in at 166. He won’t have a problem making 163. We saw how small James (166-167 lbs. in the fight) was in comparison to DeLeon (between 180-185 lbs) and even (Jason) Naugler. James will be fighting as a middleweight.”

Article posted on 26.04.2008

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