MARC McLaughlin is one of four Derry boxers vying for Ulster Senior titles at the Europa Hotel, Belfast tonight.
And the 21 year-old Aberfoyle man believes it will prove a memorable night for the city’s boxing fraternity.
The former St Mary’s ABC lightweight, now boxing out of Dockers Club, Belfast, is confident all four Derry boxers will return with Ulster titles!
McLaughlin joins St Joseph’s ABC duo, Conor Coyle and Blaine Dobbins and Oakleaf ABC’s Sean McGlinchey in tonight’s provincial finals.
A former Ulster and National youth champion, McLaughlin meets reigning Ulster Senior lightweight champion, Joseph Fitzpatrick (Immaculata) in tonight’s 60 kgs showpiece.
And as the Ulster Boxing Council are using the Ulster Championships as part of the selection process for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this summer, Marc is anxious to put on a show in the Belfast venue.
McLaughlin edged his way into the final after a tight 2-1 decision over Gerard Matthews from St Paul’s and he’s glad he dusted off the cobwebs in a below-par performance.
“I didn’t get going in the semi-final at all, it was a tight contest. I was disappointed in myself and probably would have given my performance a five out of 10.
“The last round was down to who wanted it more and I just bit down in my gum shield and said to myself ‘to just go for it’. “
Following a brief spell working in Liverpool, McLaughlin recently returned home and is now based in Belfast.
And after learning his trade in St Mary’s ABC in Creggan under the guidance of his grandfather, Mickey Glackin, he now feels at home in the Dockers Club with trainer, Paddy Fitzsimmons.
“I’m working up in Belfast now and I thought the Dockers Club was the best place to go to and it’s done wonders for me,” he explained.
“I have had great experience with my grandad at St Mary’s and I’ve now become a more complete boxer now.
“I‘ve learned so much form my granda who started me off in the sport and I wouldnt be here if it wasn’t for him
“I’m hungrier than ever,” he added. “I’m glad I got last night’s performance out of the way. Hopefully that’s the cobwebs blown off so I can start fresh on Friday night.
“I’ll have to turn it on this Friday. I’ve been sparring top class boxers like Kurt Walker who is in the final of the 56 kgs and he’s been away with the Irish Senior team. I just have to put it in practice tomorrow night and get back to what I do best. I got through by the skin of my teeth if I’m being honest but that happens sometimes.
“I’d rather take a bad win rather than boxing well and losing as I’ve had a few notable disappointments in the past.”
The Ulster Boxing Board have decided to ditch the headguards from men’s amateur boxing for the Championships for the first time in almost 40 years and it’s come as a bit of shock for McLaughlin.
“With no head guards it kind of put me off a bit as well. It’s my first time fighting with no head guards. They brought it in this year for the Ulster Seniors and I only found out on Monday when the boxing started.
“It was strange but now that I’ve got it out of the way I think it will work to my advantage on Friday night.
And McLaughlin expects a clean sweep of Ulster titles for the four Derry boxers.
“It’s great to see the Derry boys doing well and hopefully we can take the four titles away with us.
“All four of us are more than capable of doing it. The talent we have between the four of us, we can without a doubt walk away with four UIster titles and that would be great to see for the city.”