FIVE DAYS of hard graft at Ricky ‘The Hitman’ Hatton’s gym in Manchester and Brett McGinty has rediscovered his love for the fight game.
The 21 year-old St Johnston man completed his first full week as a professional at multiple world champion, Hatton’s base in Hyde on the outskirts of Manchester last week.
And while the former Oak Leaf amateur admitted it was a ‘very tough’ introduction to the paid ranks, it has simply whet his appetite as excitement grows ahead of his pro debut.
That’s expected to be before Christmas “all being well”, but at present he’s getting put through his paces by one of the sports’ finest middleweights and loving every minute of it.
Indeed, he’s learning from one of the best in the business and as he looks forward to his first sparring session tomorrow, McGinty is fully enthused about his future in the Hatton stable.
“It’s everything I could’ve asked for,” said McGinty who plans on fighting in the light middleweight division. “Anybody coming out of the amateurs and turning pro, all they can ask for is a good opportunity to make something of themselves and I have that.
“To be honest it was tough. I knew it was going to be tough because when I was over with Eugene (O’Kane) in the summer we got an idea of what kind of training I’d be doing but it was a very tough first week.
“But I have a very good opportunity. I have top coaches behind me and I have a top management team behind me who are willing to back me and invest money and time in me.
“It’s definitely exciting times for me. It’s my first spar on Wednesday and it’s been a long time since I was this excited for sparring.”
And there was no waiting about once McGinty had secured his professional contract with LA based, Sheer Sports Management Group in late September.
“I could have taken a couple of weeks to get everything sorted but if I had my way I would’ve been over long before. It was in everyone’s best interests to get over early.
“Whenever I was in LA they were asking me when I wanted to start and I told them I already had my flight booked for Monday week when I got home.
They told me if I was happy they were happy. They gave me the best deal and they’re good people too. They are genuine people who are in boxing for the right reasons.”
So what’s the initial feedback been like from Hatton? “He is pretty much saying he isn’t going to change a whole pile so far,” he explained.
“That’s never his ambition with any fighter - to try and change their style. He told me I was well suited to the pros. There are some things he wants to work on but it’s things like covering up inside and riding shots - simple things like that which I just don’t know and need to be taught. In the amateur game you don’t need to learn those things but when you’re coming into six rounds, eight rounds you need to do these things to hang in there.
“Everything needs to be slowed down a bit, taken back a step and relaxed a bit and I think that will suit me.”
Having been thrown straight into the deep end during his first week under Hatton’s tutelage, you would think McGinty would have used his weekend at home to recharge and prepare for the week ahead.
And yet the ambitious eight times Irish amateur champion used the opportunity to return to his former stomping ground, Oak Leaf ABC to put in a few extra hours of training.
It’s the work ethic required if he’s got ambitions to climb the light middleweight ladder and he’s certainly not prepared to waste a golden opportunity with such a fantastic coaching and management team behind him.
He’s living in one of Hatton’s houses close to his gym along with like-minded individuals and McGinty insists it’s the perfect environment to learn his trade.
“It’s as good a gym as I ever been in. You don’t need to have a good gym to be a good boxer but at the same time it definitely helps. I’m living in a five bedroom house. It’s a good environment and we’re all teammates and professional fighters, eating healthy, having a bit of craic, going to the gym, bed early and up to work the next day. It’s a positive environment to be in and the gym is just around the corner as well.”
The last time he ducked between the ropes was back in February when he lost to Gabriel Dossen in the National Elite middleweight semi-finals. With a few more weeks of hard training under his belt and once he gets his professional license rubber stamped, he can then begin to put plans in place for his first pro fight.
“I haven’t been in the ring since February so the quicker I get into it the better. I have my medical and all done. That’s the hard part so it’s just about getting the bit of paper now. Once that gets sorted the plan is to be out before Christmas, all being well.
"There are plenty of shows so it’s just a case of getting on them. The fact I’m based in Manchester too, instead of LA, gives me a chance to bring a few fans over to my fights and family to watch me. It’s a lot easier to get to Manchester than it is LA so that was important to me.”