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McCarthy sees off Belgian to become European cruiserweight champion

‘I’m the roughest, toughest bad boy out of Belfast, and I’m the first black Irish European champion.’

Tommy McCarthy celebrates with his EBU European title.
Tommy McCarthy celebrates with his EBU European title.
Image: Matchroom Boxing

BELFAST’S TOMMY MCCARTHY is the new European cruiserweight champion after he earned a majority-decision victory over Belgium’s Bilal Laggoune on the undercard of Oleksandr Usyk’s heavyweight bout with Dereck Chisora on Sky Sports Box Office.

The 29-year-old ‘Mac Attack’ was deservedly awarded the contest on scores of 116-112, 116-113 and 114-114, and in strapping the blue European Boxing Union (EBU) belt around his waist took a step closer towards a dream world-title shot.

The former Irish amateur standout started relatively slowly, perhaps dropping two of the opening four rounds, but had built a healthy-enough lead approaching the championship rounds that even a late burst from Laggoune wasn’t enough to get him close on two of the three cards.

I was a bout during which neither man was significantly hurt but both were exhausted: McCarthy fine body work in particular slowed Laggoune in the second half, but the awkward Belgian wasn’t without his own successes; he landed plenty of clean work of his own but was typically reactive rather than proactive, with McCarthy always evincing a sense that he was in charge of proceedings.

The West Belfast man did tire, too, in the later rounds, but having shipped a couple and endured his only real hairy moments, McCarthy sucked it up and produced a strong final verse to rubber-stamp his overall superiority.

“This means the world to me,” an elated McCarthy said post-fight.

I’m the European champ. I’m the roughest, toughest bad boy out of Belfast, and I’m the first black Irish European champion — Black History Month [in UK] as well.

“I don’t want to stick around in Europe. I want Maris Breidis next,” McCarthy added, referring to the Latvian IBF cruiserweight world champion.

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In victory, McCarthy improved to 17-2 (8KOs), while Laggoune fell to 25-2-2 (14KOs) in defeat.

McCarthy is the 15th Irish professional boxer in history to hold a legitimate (EBU) European title, and the first black Irishman to win a professional title of its significance.

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