DERRY southpaw, Marc McLaughlin believes he will come back stronger after his ‘sickening’ split decision loss in the Ulster Elite Boxing lightweight final last Thursday night in Newry.
The 23 year-old Aberfoyle man was involved in one of the bouts of the night in Bellini’s, but that was of little consolation to McLaughlin who was ultimately on the wrong end of the judges’ 2-1 decision as Braid’s Anthony O’Rawe came from behind to clinch the Sholdis Cup.
It had all started so promisingly for McLaughlin, representing the Dockers Club, as he dominated the opening round with his left hand and O’Rawe was finding real difficulty dealing with the relentless pace and the flurry of attacks.
Such was his dominance in the first round, McLaughlin felt he could ease off in the second round but his change in tactics proved counter productive as O’Rawe began to find his range.
The exertions of the first round and his tough semi-final victory began to take its toll in the third and final round as McLaughlin fatigued and O’Rawe began to gather momentum, but the Derry man still felt he had done enough to secure his first ever Ulster title.
“I totally out-boxed him in the first round,” recalled McLaughlin. “And because I was doing it so easily I thought I’d walk him down after that and try and stop him. He didn’t catch me at all in the first round. And anything he did catch me with, it didn’t hurt because he wasn’t a big hitter.
I beat myself up about it that night but my coaches were telling me to move on. It wasn’t as if I was stopped or beat convincingly. It was a tight fight which could have went either way.Marc McLaughlin
“I mixed it up a bit in the second round and he won that,” he added. “The third round I thought I would bite down on my gumshield and box the way I boxed in the first round but I left it too late. The second round ruined it for me. I know from experience that if you leave anything to question it normally doesn’t go in your favour. So I was gutted.
“I played into his style in the second round which evened it up and left me chasing it in the final round. I didn’t take a backward step in the last and thought that would have swung it for me.”
While the former St Mary’s ABC clubman admits it will take time to get over Thursday night’s defeat having come so close, he knows he can take plenty of positives from an overall successful championship.
“When I heard the decision I was disgusted,” he continued. “I beat myself up about it that night but my coaches were telling me to move on. It wasn’t as if I was stopped or beat convincingly. It was a tight fight which could have went either way. It was tiredness more than anything that let me down.
“I was out for nearly a year but came back and got to the Ulster Senior Final and felt I did enough to win it.
“It’s sickening at the minute but I’ll be back in the gym on Monday morning. It’s a learning curve and you have to come back bigger and stronger - every good champion does that. So I’ll be back stronger!”