McGirt headlines first ESPN show vs. Joval on July 25 in Saratoga

VERO BEACH, Florida (July 8, 2008) – Coming off of his first pro loss, James McGirt, Jr. (18-1, 9 KOs) very well could have settled on his next opponent being a confidence builder. However, instead of fighting somebody brought in to lose and make James look good, Team McGirt jumped at the opportunity to fight former IBO and WBU middleweight champion Raymond “Hallelujah” Joval (37-4, 16 KOs) in the 10-round main event on the July 25th ESPN Friday Night Fights show at Saratoga Springs, New York..

Back on April 11, Carlos “Baby Sugar” DeLeon, Jr. (20-2-2, 12 KOs), like James another son of a former world champion, stopped McGirt in the seventh round of their nationally televised fight. McGirt had floored DeLeon at the end of the preceding round but he got careless going for a knockout.

“I learned that I have to be focused at all times,” McGirt said of his last fight. “I started lollygagging and got caught with a shot. When they offered Joval, I said let’s take it. My first loss was a bad experience. I was depressed for a couple of weeks to the point where I didn’t want to talk to anybody. But this is what I love to do and I’ve put that loss behind me. It can happen (loss). A lot of fighters think it can’t happen to them but it can.

“Raymond is a very good fighter with a lot of skills. I watched him fight years ago. He has a lot of experience, which he’ll try and use to his benefit against me. I have to use my speed and stay one step ahead of him. I’m very excited to be fighting in my first ESPN main event. I know I am going to be world champion. In this fight I will prove to the world that my last fight was a fluke.”

Joval, who fought in the 1992 Olympics representing The Neatherlands, has beaten the likes of Sam Solivan, Willie Gibbs, and Shannon Taylor. He’s won four in a row since losing a 10-round decision to Fernando Vargas in 2005.

James head trainer and father, 2-time world champion “Buddy,” agreed 100-percent for with the decision for James to fight Joval instead of a walk-over type opponent. “I think with a lesser guy,” Buddy explained, “my son wouldn’t be as motivated. He has to have a fire under him. He needs to prove himself against a more experienced guy like Joval, who is smart and cagey. My son will be more focused against him, a better guy and more of a threat. My first loss (in his 30th fight against Frankie Warren) was devastating and people thought I was crazy coming right back against a former world champ, Saoul Mamby, a better guy than the one who had beaten me. I think Joval is better than DeLeon, who is a puncher; if James didn’t make stupid mistakes, he wins that fight. Everything happens for a reason and James is much more serious now.”

James will also drop down to middleweight – although this fight is contracted at 163 lbs. -- after fighting as a super middleweight his last few bouts. Buddy added, “James said, ‘Dad, I’m a small super middleweight and some of these guys are too strong for me.’ Even before his last fight we decided that he was making the move back to middleweight. He weighed in at 166 for his last fight and he didn’t do anything the last few days leading up to the fight. He is on the right program and 163 won’t be a problem. Naturally, Father Time will take its course and eventually James will be a super middleweight. By the, though, he’ll be ranked and will be able to make decisions about fighting as middleweight or super middleweight.”

Responding from adversity is all part of the maturation process for prize fighters such as James. Another sign of maturity is making sound career decisions and that’s what Team McGirt believes is happening now. “We talked about it but we decided not to take the easy way out,” McGirt’s manager Dennis Witherow spoke about fighting Joval on ESPN. We wanted a fight to get us going again. We didn’t think twice about taking on a good fighter and the exposure James will get from fighting Joval on national television.”

The marketing of James McGirt, Jr. may have taken a bump, but just about every fighter suffers defeat, and one loss doesn’t end a promising career. How a fighter reacts to adversity ultimately separates contenders from pretenders and Team McGirt chose to go all in rather than fold.

Article posted on 08.07.2008

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