Sweet night for Sweet C: Colin McMillan interview
Twenty five years ago, one of Britain’s most affable boxers took on Italy's bantamweight gold medallist from the 1984 Olympic Games, Maurizio Stecca, for the WBO world featherweight title. Colin McMillan kindly took the time to speak with Paul Zanon and revisit that incredible night...
“Wow – 25 years ago!" McMillan tells me. "For me it was a chance to fulfil a childhood dream. When you start out, your end game is always to become a world champion and for me that fight was the opportunity to fulfil that dream I’d been working at since I was 15 years old.
“When I started boxing as an amateur, my aim was always to follow in the footsteps of Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard, go to the Olympics, get a gold medal and then turn professional and become a world champion.”
Unfortunately, despite a sterling amateur career, McMillan never did win an Olympic gold. However, the chance to fight Stecca on 16 May 1992, was his opportunity to prove he was worthy of top honours.
“In a funny kind of way, it was my chance to have my own kind of gold medal by beating not only the word champion, but a former Olympic champion,” McMillan admits.
Through great self-belief and incredible boxing ability, McMillan achieved his goal.
"It was a great opportunity for me," he continues. "Going into the fight it was pretty evenly matched. A lot of pundits went for me, a lot went for Stecca and the anticipation was welcomed for two technical boxers who could entertain.
“Going into the fight I was extremely confident. My preparation went really, really well and according to plan. On the night I boxed well and felt I was in control and was able to out-think and out-manoeuvre him. When I walked away with the world title, it was an amazing feeling to walk away with something I’d worked so hard for, for so many years.”
Reminiscing about his decorated 31-4 pro career, McMillan gave me his take on his top three fights as a professional.
“Coming in third place would be Sean Murphy for the British and Commonwealth championships," he explains. "It was not only a chance to fight for both belts, but the chance for me to win the Lonsdale Belt outright. That took place at the Albert Hall, which was a great venue, with great history, to be topping the bill.
"The fight itself, I was always in control. I wouldn’t say I won the fight easily, but I won most rounds and, from a technical point of view, I boxed well. Sean was very, very tough and came forward all the time, but I was able to out-manoeuvre him. The fight went the full 12 rounds and I ended up damaging my hand a little bit.
“I would say my fight with Gary De Roux was my second most memorable fight, when I fought for the British championship for the first time. He and Sean Murphy had a very tough fight a couple of months earlier and he [Gary] stopped Sean. Gary was a renowned puncher and very dangerous.
"Going into that fight we were evenly matched, but I used my boxing skills and managed to stop him in the seventh round. That was a very memorable moment, because I was now a champion. I’d had two controversial decisions in the ABA finals and hadn’t quite fulfilled what I wanted to do, whereas, now I’d done it and become a champion. I was now in the history books. It was a great feeling to become a British champion.
“Number one has got to be Maurizio Stecca. That was the defining moment. That was dream complete. To beat him at home with all the British fans who’d been on the journey with me was something I’ll never forget and always will be grateful for.”
Twenty five years later, with a great CV behind him, McMillan is still firmly involved with boxing - the sport which originally propelled him into the limelight.
Now running his own academy, McMillan is looking to add value within boxing circles with a new invention - a great new product called ‘Box Weave’ [pictured left].
“Since my retirement I managed Audley Harrison for a little bit after he won the Olympics and a few others fighters, but I’ve kind of come away from that now and moved more towards the amateur side and the boxing academy, showing kids at school the benefits which boxing provides," McMillan explains.
"Whilst doing that, I’ve always said that a boxer’s defence is paramount and have always been looking for ways to improve defence. So I came up with the idea of a boxing attachment you could put on a punchbag, which has three elongated arms - you’ve really got to practice your bobbing and weaving to not get hit when the bag starts moving around, because the arms come back at you as the bag swings.
"It gets you to think that it’s not just about how hard you can hit a bag. That what’s boxing is all about – hitting and not getting hit. The attachment improves alertness and your footwork as you can’t just stay in one place.
“The product is receiving good feedback and orders are coming in nicely,” McMillan adds.
So nicely in fact that snooker ace Ronnie O’Sullivan recently tried the product out under the strict guidance of McMillan and quickly placed an order afterwards.
With a number of professional gyms already expressing a strong interest in installing 'Box Weave' on to their punchbags, I wouldn’t bet against this latest addition to the boxing world being a success.
Box Weave is available on Amazon - click here for more details