DMcCarthy grows up early

Shaun Brown
18/09/2015 11:24am

At 14-years-old what were you doing? Have a think. Playing football with your mates? Going to parties? Studying for the latest test at school? Things were a bit different for Matt McCarthy. “I was a man at 14.” At that age, I think it is safe to say that two of life’s greatest responsibilities - parenthood and employment - didn’t interest you. In fact, the very thought of it would have been a difficult one to comprehend. “I had a kid at 13-years-old,” McCarthy told BM. “I started working full-time at the age of 14 from 6am till 6pm on a [building] site. I was taking home good money.”

Quite the revelation from McCarthy and also the pivotal reason that prompted him to start boxing.

Growing up in Tilbury, Essex, an area where everyone knows everyone, there wasn’t much interest in boxing from the young McCarthy. He didn’t watch or like fighting. The ideal pastime would be somewhere peaceful on a riverside where the hours would disappear with McCarthy vs. fish.

“I needed to get into something,” said McCarthy, now a 22-year-old. “I didn’t want to be a guy who [walks] the street at 13 with a kid. I got myself into a gym. Then I was training at the gym, coming home and seeing my baby and that’s what got me into boxing.”

The thought of fatherhood never frightened McCarthy. Discovering he was to have a child at such a tender age forced him to grow up straight away. He met the challenge head on. McCarthy wanted to pay his own way so school was abandoned for a life among men on a building site.

“I was living the life of a 30 or 40-year-old man at 14,” he said. “You have no choice but to turn into a man at that age when all that happens to you.”

McCarthy, promoted by Steve Goodwin, looks to build on his (12-1, 3 KOs) record when he returns to action in a six-round contest at York Hall on 17 October before embarking on what he hopes will be his first title shot in December. The boy who was once never interested in boxing now can’t stay away from the gym.

As an amateur, McCarthy had 22 fights, won 18 and tasted defeat in the semis of the ABAs. He was ready to give up boxing. But approaches to turn professional by Frank (now Kellie) Maloney forced him to change his mind. Despite prolonged interest from Maloney, McCarthy chose to fight under the Miranda Carter banner as his foray into the world of professional prizefighting began.

“She’s a lovely woman,” McCarthy told BM. “She done really well for me. She got me some good fights and paid me well. At that stage, I was coming in under the radar rather than going in and challenging for big fights straight away. You’ve got to go in and learn the trade before you step up and I’ve learned my trade and I’m ready to step up. I want those big fights now.”

And, after consideration, McCarthy wants those big fights at 154lbs rather than 147lbs. One bout he is chomping at the bit for, in particular, is a showdown with English title holder Nav Mansouri. The 26-year-old Yorkhireman was somewhat fortuitous to get the nod against Sam Sheedy back in July when many had concluded that the challenger had done enough to take the English strap.

McCarthy says he will fight the champion anytime, anywhere, but believes Mansouri wants none of it and wasn’t shy in coming forward with his opinion on the fighter. “Nav won’t come out of his home ground,” he said. “I just don’t think he’d fight away from his own ground. He likes to fight in his own town. I saw his fight with Sam Sheedy. I thought Sheedy beat him quite easy to be honest. Nav got the decision, but that’s because he fights at home and that’s why he wants to stay there. But, personally, I think I beat Nav 100%, every day of the week. I don’t think he’s got much to offer. I think Nav hasn’t moved on. He’s been at the same level too long. He should be fighting for British titles.”

McCarthy added: “I’m not one to be big-headed and I respect every fighter who gets in the ring. I’m not one to take the piss or anything either, but I’m one million per cent confident I’m going to win that British title.”