'No pantomime': McIntyre vs Shinkwin preview

Garry White
28/11/2018 9:50pm

Light heavyweights Joel McIntyre and Miles Shinkwin continue their rivalry with a third fight this weekend. Garry White previews what could prove a classic domestic dust-up...

There is something about boxing and its trilogies. The rivalry is a given, but the bitterness is an enhancing if not necessarily vital ingredient. Think Zale vs Graziano, Ali vs Frazier or Leonard vs Duran. They say styles make fights, but personalities do as well.

Joel McIntyre (18-3) and Miles Shinkwin (14-4) step out at the York Hall this weekend for the vacant English light-heavyweight title. It will be the third time that they have met, with the rubber locked at one win apiece. Whilst not even the two combatants would place themselves in the above exalted company, this is still a keenly anticipated domestic match-up.

It promises to fully deliver on both of the necessary ingredients, with their earlier contests equally worthy of consideration for domestic fight of the year. In terms of style, it is ripped straight from the recipe book of 'old school tear-up'.

When Boxing Monthly dared to suggest to McIntyre that the animosity may just be the usual poorly acted theatrics, he very quickly put us straight, “There is no pantomime about it. There’s a genuine dislike between us,” he said.

“Before the first fight I didn’t say anything, but he got it into his head that I had said something about him. That kid could argue with himself. He was saying that I had said this and that, and unfortunately, I went on to lose the fight.”

The fight in question was at the York Hall in July 2014 and concluded with Shinkwin winning the Southern Area belt via a narrow decision. McIntyre got his revenge two years later with a unanimous points victory, in his home city of Portsmouth, with the more prestigious prize of the English title on offer.

McIntyre provides some further insight and context into the simmering animosity between himself and Hertfordshire’s Shinkwin, “Before the second fight, he came to town wearing a Southampton [Portsmouth FC’s bitter rivals] football shirt. He was just trying to wind me up and my fans.

“If he had worn that the day after on match day he would have been in real trouble. I’m not really into all this football rivalry and stuff, but some of these lads take it pretty damn seriously,” he says ominously.

McIntyre concedes that their shared 20 rounds of mayhem have led to him identifying a grudging respect for his rival. Especially so, when he recalls what he believes to be a one-sided victory in their last encounter. A result that Shinkwin predictably takes umbrage with.

“He [Shinkwin] still says it was hometown judging, but it was pretty much a beating. I think it was his pure stubbornness that kept him going. But I do have a lot of respect for him after that. I thought maybe he was a bit fragile, but I definitely know he isn’t after that.”

McIntyre lost his much-coveted title in his first defence last September. In what was anticipated to be a routine encounter he was caught cold by Liam Conroy and stopped in two one-sided rounds. The 30-year-old readily admits that “mentally I just wasn’t there. I didn’t give him the respect I should have. If your mental game isn’t right then, then you’ve got no game at all.”

2018 has been relatively quiet with just a single tune-up fight earlier in the year, against the unthreatening Tayar Mehmed, where a comfortable points shutout was secured. He has faced the frustration of late call offs, including the rescheduling of the Shinkwin fight which should have taken place back in September.

McIntyre has stayed active via recent participation in the light-heavy edition of Ultimate Boxxer II. A three-round knockout tournament format where he made the semi-final before losing a narrow and perhaps contentious decision to Dec Spelman.

As far as Shinkwin is concerned, he has lost two of his last three, since that English title reverse. This also includes a two-round stoppage defeat to McIntyre’s conqueror Liam Conroy and a unanimous points reverse to Jake Ball for the WBA Inter-continental strap.

For both men and in particular Shinkwin, it is hard to see where they have left to go if they do not walk away victorious on Saturday night. But McIntyre - in his warm and characterful Pompey tones - is confident that this critical contest will go his way.

“I know it’s not going to be no walk in the park,” he says honestly. “I am in with a tough, stubborn opponent and he will be going for it. But there will be a different boxer in front of him, compared to last time. And it didn’t go so well for him last time did it?”

He then adds, with conviction, “It won’t go well for him this time either.”

The man nicknamed “El Toro” is adamant that his recapturing of the English belt – vacated by Conroy – will help him reset and recalibrate his career. The establishment of a much-needed platform to push on for a shot at the British title or intercontinental honours in the next 12 months.

He muses philosophically: “In boxing, you can never really make a plan. Different things happen and people pull out and all that stuff. But, yes, the British title is definitely on the bucket list for sure.”

And then he quickly adds, not as an afterthought, but with conviction, “and I want to go further.”

Before the evening of 1 December is through, we may begin to have an idea what this really means and how achievable it is.