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'I'm not going to hang up the gloves yet': At 42, Christina McMahon envisions a bright 2017

The Monaghan native spoke to The42 before Christmas and is now preparing for a March world title fight.

Image: Christina McMahon Facebook

FOR MOST PEOPLE, when they hear the words female professional boxing, one name springs to mind following her big break at the end of 2016 — Katie Taylor.

However, Christina McMahon has been tipping away quietly but progressively, often out of the limelight for the past few years.

Ireland’s first female professional boxer became a world champion in Zambia almost two years ago at the age of 40, an incredible standalone feat never mind other achievements along the way. She beat Catherine Phiri on her home turf to claim the Interim WBC World Bantamweight belt.

“It was an incredible experience,” she tells The42. “But that was also following a horrible year. I was let down an awful lot through 2014 and 2015. The reason that Africa came out of it at all was I was meant to fight in Morocco the year before and that fell through as well.

“This is really when I got into the top ten in the world, and the top two in Europe, and became someone that was allowed to be sanctioned to fight for world titles.

“That’s where it kind of went all a bit funny, where fighters were pulling out or promoters were pulling out. It’s not always the fighter, sometimes the promoter pulls shows as well. It was one or the other, at any stage.”

Dolphil Promotions Fight Night - The Prides Path to Glory - Undercard Source: David Maher/SPORTSFILE

That’s one thing that the Monaghan native has gotten used to over the years.

The curtains came down on her 2016 in disappointing fashion, as her Dublin world title fight was pulled in December. Her Peruvian opponent Linda Laura Lecce pulled out of the fight, leaving McMahon dejected.

Another world title fight last March resulted in a controversial decision to award her opponent the fight and the belt, and subsequent negotiations for a rematch resulted in McMahon receiving a suspension from the World Boxing Council via Facebook message.

The former world kickboxing champion remains remarkably positive despite all of these set-backs however.

“It’s (2016) been a roller coaster of a year really, it’s had its highs as well as its lows.

“I suppose, the excitement of going to these countries and the experience of going. Being the main event of the shows as well, they’re all highs. I know people say you have to win, but they’re all part of the journey of female boxing.

“The fact that I was in America and Mexico and the main event with the fight televised, I was very proud of it. It’s not that I have major regrets of taking on with the fights, it’s just that I suppose, you’re learning about the ins and outs of the sport and sometimes you can get a wee bit disillusioned.”

One reason why she was so positive at the time of our conversation was the prospect of a title fight going ahead in the New Year.

“I’ve a feeling that it’s not lost, I’ve just a feeling that it’s not now. There’s talks going on in the background and I think we’ll look again in 2017.

“I’m not going to hang up the gloves just yet. It’s more of it, it’s happened me five times and many boxers will go through it, male and female. I believe that the fight will come up again.”

McMahon’s wishes have since come true as she confirmed to RTÉ that she will fight in March at the National Stadium in Dublin.

Dolphil Promotions Fight Night - The Prides Path to Glory - Undercard Source: David Maher/SPORTSFILE

She told Sunday Sport in December that the bout should take place “around the first three weeks in March. Definitely, and in the National Stadium, I think is the talk at moment.”

McMahon took to Facebook earlier in the week to reiterate the plans.

“Delighted that I have the media’s support behind me now too while preparing for the fight of my life early 2017. Details coming soon.”

The 42-year-old personal trainer, who runs her own gym in Carrickmacross, began amateur boxing to improve her hand skills for kickboxing.

She loved the game however, and progressed to win an All-Ireland title and fight for her country, before bringing her career a step further.

There is a rule in place that from the age of 35, you can no longer fight as an amateur so she took the decision, along with her husband and coach, to turn professional in 2010.

Since then, she has rose rapidly through the rankings and has no intentions of stopping just yet.

Before Christmas, McMahon had already planned big things for 2017, and now she is ready to make these plans a reality.

“Going forward, I’m going to have a wee rest now, because I’ve been training hard. Maybe just focus on my business for a wee while.

“And then in 2017, we’ll have a few meetings that are already planned and discuss going forward then in the boxing world.”

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Emma Duffy

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