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Saturday 4 February 2023 Dublin: 9°C
Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press/Press Association Images Brian Magee
# Magee's Moment
Title chance for hard-working Magee
Defeat to Romanian Lucian Bute has opened some doors for Belfast’s Brian Magee.

AN IDEA SPRUNG up on some of the boxing forums online a few months ago which, if it was to happen, would have honoured some of the sport’s ‘losers’.

It hasn’t transpired as of yet, but Prizefighter: The Journeymen would have seen the men whose job it is to make others look good get their own chance to shine in the spotlight.

Journeymen are the boxers against whom the up-and-coming stars generally ply their trades. If you look at the records of any ‘big name’ boxers, by and large their early fights will have been against fighters who have more losses than wins. Far more.

It’s not that they are paid to lose – their job is to test their opponents, even if promoters prefer it if that doesn’t go so far as to scupper plans for their next greatest fighter of them all. And though a specific Prizefighter tournament hasn’t materialised for these fighters, they do deserve recognition – without the journeyman, boxing as we know it simply could not exist.

Though he is by no mean a journeyman or a loser, one fighter who has been given a career boost by a defeat is Northern Ireland’s Brian Magee. The Belfast man was last in action in Montreal in March, when he fought valiantly but ultimately lost to Lucian Bute via a tenth round TKO. It was the longest any fighter had extended the Romanian in over three years.

I said at the time that it was the sort of performance that could pay off for Magee, and that is the case as he gets to fight for an interim world title tonight. He’s made the long trip to Costa Rica to take on Jaime Barboza, a tough but beatable opponent.

While the trinket on offer means little, it would open more doors for Magee, who is one of the sport’s good guys. At 36, he’s also showing that persistence can and sometimes does pay off. Win tonight, and some more paydays are likely to head his way. It’s live on Setanta in the early hours of tomorrow morning.

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Boxing is traditionally quiet in August, with promoters not taking a chance at trying to sell tickets when folks are on their holidays, but the next ‘season’ of boxing (from September onwards) is already shaping up to be very interesting. Following on from last week’s announcement that Paul McCloskey is to fight a world title eliminator fight against Bredis Prescott, it has also been confirmed that Belfast’s Carl Frampton will fight Kiko Martinez, the man who knocked Bernard Dunne out in 90 seconds four years ago.

Both fights will take place at the Odyssey Arena on September 10th.

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It appears that last Saturday’s experimental return of boxing to terrestrial television in the UK was a success. A peak of three million people tuned in to Tyson Fury’s win over Dereck Chisora, which is a stunning audience for Channel 5 – it’s twice the amount that watched highlights of the final day’s play in England’s test match win over India.

It also seems like Fury’s future fights could be on the network. Speaking after the fight, promoter Mick Hennessy said ‘five or six more fights on terrestrial television’ would make Fury a star, and there’s no reason that this cannot happen. While there’s been no confirmation that this will occur, the signs are good and with Fury talking up his chances of fighting for an Irish title, we may even see him return to our shores.

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This Week In Boxing History

Ring Magazine ranked him as the 25th most powerful puncher of all time but, for me, Julian Jackson is even better than that and was as frightening an opponent as they came. The three-time world titlist scored 49 knockouts from his 55 wins, many of them chilling and clinical. His chin didn’t match his power, but that made him all the more exciting to watch with his fights capable of ending at any moment.

That was certainly the case against Herol Graham in November 1990 (a phenomenal punch to pull a win out of the back in a losing situation), and twice on July 30th – against Buster Drayton in 1988

and against Terry Norris in 1989.