DERRY lightweight, Marc McLaughlin has unfinished business when it comes to competing at the Ulster Elite Boxing Championships.
And the talented southpaw has vowed to do everything in his power to clinch the 60kgs title at the 2016 tournament in Newry, Co. Down next week.
The 23 year-old Aberfoyle man, now representing the Dockers’ Club in Belfast, was a beaten finalists in the 2014 decider at the Europa Hotel, losing controversially to Joseph Fitzpatrick (Immaculata) - a heartbreaking decision which cost him his place in the N. Ireland Commonwealth Games team!
Marc found it difficult to bounce back from that disappointment and fell out of love for the sport, even toying with a desire to join the professional ranks.
“I probably could have done a bit more in the final,” recalled Marc. “I thought I won it and everybody else did too but it didn’t go my way.”
He then decided to give the Ulster Championships another shot last year but suffered a devastating injury in the weeks leading up to the tournament when breaking his ribs during a bout in Manchester.
I kind of fell out of love with boxing a bit after that and then over the summer I got that bit of fire back. I thought I had to get back at it and I have to win this.Marc McLaughlin
It was another huge blow for the Derry man and one he felt, at one point, he couldn’t mentally recover from.
“Last year I travelled to Manchester to do a warm-up fight ahead of the Championships and I ended up breaking my ribs so I was out all last season,” lamented Marc.
“So when I got injured I fell away from boxing and started up my own company with my uncle and have been flat out working.
“I kind of fell out of love with boxing a bit after that and then over the summer I got that bit of fire back. I thought I had to get back at it and I have to win this.”
Now he’s out to prove a point; prove the doubters wrong and bring that elusive Ulster title back to both the Dockers’ Club and St. Mary’s ABC where his grandfather, Mickey Glackin has helped shape his career from a young age.
Marc believes that rib injury sustained in the build-up to the 2015 championships robbed him of the chance of winning the Ulster title.
St Paul’s lightweight, Gerard Matthews, who Marc defeated in the 2014 semi-final, went on to win the 2015 Ulster title so now the Aberfoyle lad is determined to prove a point and dethrone the Belfast man at the championships which begin next Sunday night with the weigh-ins and the draw.
“That injury ruled me completely out of last year’s championships and the fella I beat in the semi-finals the year before, Gerard Matthews - he ended up winning the Ulster title,” added Marc.
“So I’m out to get him this year and I’m going to put 100 per cent into it to make sure I win it. I’ve beat him twice already and I’ll put everything into winning it this year again.
“I’ve messed about and have been half-hearted at training but for the last four to six weeks I’ve given it 100 per cent effort and commitment.
“To see Gerard Matthews win the Ulster Championship last year, it made me think that it should be me.”
A year outside the ring is a long time in the sport and with new blood in the lightweight division this year, Marc believes people will have forgotten about him. So now that he’s rediscovered that fire in his belly, he wants to ‘prove a point’.
“People have probably forgot about me after being out for a year. I’m out to prove a point. Win lose or draw, I know I’ve put in 110 per cent. I was Irish champion at junior level. I boxed for Ulster and Ireland. I should have been in the Commonwealth Games but that’s the past and I have to look forward. I need to win this.”
Marc spends most of his week working in Belfast and training twice a day at his adopted club in North Belfast. He returns home to Derry at the weekends where he resumes his training with his grandad at St Mary’s ABC in Creggan.
And his grandad believes he’s in great shape going into next week’s tournament.
“He’s been training at the club on Friday night and Saturday morning and has been training at the beach on a Sunday and I can see a big change in him,” said Mickey. “It’s about stepping in there now and doing the business.”
And Marc believes if he’s brings his best from into the tournament no one will stand in his way of securing that Ulster crown.
“I’m a week out from the championship and I’ve made the weight already. The only one I know who will be in my weight is Matthews and I know the way I am now there should be no one standing with me.
“It’s one thing I need to do. I have to be Ulster champion! I just need to go in there and do it now. I want to do it for the Dockers club as well because they haven’t had a senior champion in a while. So Paddy Fitzsimons really wants it. And I want to do it for my granda too. Most importantly I have to win it for myself.
“I feel great. I just need to sharpen up and do a bit of speed work and I’ll be ready to rock next Monday. I just need to get back to boxing and work the jab. Hopefully it will be a good end of year for me.”
Of course Marc isn’t the only Derry interest at the Championships as Commonwealth Games medalists, Sean McGlinchey (Oak Leaf ABC) and Connor Coyle are also competing.
So Marc hopes it can be a treble winning year for the Derry contingent at the finals which are to be held in Beliinis, Newry on November 12th for the first time.
“There’s three of us this year so hopefully we can do the treble.”
Due to work commitments and the financial strain preparing for the Championships entails, Marc was grateful to local businesses, Doherty’s Bakery, Badgers Bar, The Bentley Bar, Jack’s Bar, Peak Environmental, Michael Heaney Group and the Garvan O’Doherty Group who have assisted him with sponsorship.