Boxing | Sergio Martinez vs Macaulay McGowan | Tuesday 25 January 2022

His favorite band is One Direction and that’s how Macaulay McGowan believes his career is on its way – once he’s dealt with a boxing legend with designs to recapture world honour.

Two-time world champion Sergio Martinez will have a blast when he takes on his Mancunian rival in Madrid on Thursday, January 27. The Argentine star has lived in the Spanish capital for twenty years – as big as the age difference between the two fighters.

While he may be on the cusp of turning 47, Martinez (54-3-2) has three wins to his name since returning to the ring after his defeat to the great Miguel Cotto at Madison Square Garden in 2014.” Maravilla’s latest victim was fellow Briton Brian Rose, and while he knows he was chosen to make the Argentinian look good; McGowan has no respect for the script.

“If you look at it from the outside, I have no chance — maybe 90% to 10% — and I understand that,” he said. “But the way I trained and the way I prepared, I flipped those percentages. When I set my mind to something, it usually goes well. I put my heart and soul into it. I feel like the stars align. I know I have the means to defeat him. I know what I have to do and make sure it’s ready in the evening. This opportunity comes at the perfect time.”

It wasn’t an opportunity McGowan expected when he sat down with one of his idols at the Bowlers Exhibition Center in Manchester for a show in August 2021. ‘Macca’ was there to support stable mates Callum Thompson and Marcus Morrison, while Martinez was in town promoting his upcoming fight with Rose.

“Sergio Martinez at Bowlers! I thought, ‘Wow, this is crazy!’ Someone I’ve seen 24/7 on HBO and here he is in Flippin’ Bowlers! I asked him for a photo, he was terrified and six months later I get the offer to fight him!”

Macaulay McGowan and Sergio Martinez

Though out of the box since the December 2020 defeat to Keiron Conway, the 27-year-old, now trained by Joe Gallagher – who is also from the same Benchill district of Wythenshawe – has been grafting hard at the gym and believing that huge changes have taken place. is made.

“Being at the gym with Joe, Ant [Crolla] and the others; I don’t care who I fight. My mindset is, ‘I’m going to win this fight no matter what. People will say I’m just there as the opponent and all that bullshit, but I’m here to win. I’ve been with Joe for the past eight months, but I’ve improved a lot. I have matured as a fighter and physically I am so much better.”

Macaulay McGowan’s record shows 14 wins (three within the range), one draw and back-to-back points defeats in his last two fights. The losses – against heavy Kazakhstani Tursynbay Kulakhmet and rising star Kieron Conway – may have helped McGowan get his big night in Madrid. But as is often the case, the black and white statistics don’t tell the full story.

“I did it a bit!” he said with a laugh. “The Kazakh” [Kulakhmet fight], I was totally on the show. Conway’s, I got it in five days, and I thought, ‘I’m just going to bother myself!’ My friends and family lost jobs left and right in the midst of the pandemic. Everyone was skin color. I got opportunities to do my passion and got good money for it. If I refused, I’d be a bit of an asshole.

‘I have friends who couldn’t even play Sunday football and have a pint! I had the chance to fight on an Anthony Joshua undercard! If I turned that down, I wouldn’t be able to look them in the face! I pride myself on being honest with myself and the people around me. Even though I lost those two fights, I could look at myself in the mirror.”

This is a guy who likes boy bands, Madonna, chick flicks and lots of ‘nerdy’ stuff. If you’d seen McGowan dance and sing to the ring the night he fought Conway, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were looking at a carefree man. In between rounds, he even asked his corner for an update on the Manchester derby (he’s a City fan, by the way). McGowan is good at portraying that character – the Manc is always up for a laugh, and he’s funny and engaging. But there is much more to it.

A thinker, a reader and someone who is well aware of his surroundings. The “honesty” he speaks of is the reason he was working on his partner’s construction site less than a week earlier, arguably the biggest night of his life.

“It’s a good joke, I enjoy it. I finish the gym in the morning, go straight to work and then I go from work to Chorlton marina to do sprints with Joe.

Does he think Martinez was vaccinating a few days before the fight?

‘Was he ‘eck. His knees wouldn’t hold!” McGowan smiles again.

The final sparring for this camp was done on the last day he worked. All the plans and preparations are done and now he just plans to enjoy the whole experience knowing that there will be a little corner of Benchill in the Wizink Arena.

‘I’ve got a few on the way. Mates, colleagues and boys and ladies from the gym. The people who have really invested in me, not financially, but the ones who really want me to do well, they will be there. That will feel like there are a million people cheering me on. If I win it will be fun to be able to celebrate with them. That will mean everything to me.”

The positive outlook and willing smile mask a backstory of dark days and fear for the recently married family man. Both he and his wife Francesca welcomed Florence into the world a little over three years ago. They then endured a scorching time with son Albie, who was deprived of oxygen at birth — or HIE (Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy) to give the condition its formal name.

“He suffered brain damage and we didn’t know how he would develop,” McGowan explains. “But at the beginning of last year he was fired from the physio. He walks, talks and I feel like every bit of luck I’ve had in life has gone into him. I don’t expect happiness in my life anymore. It just has to be a hard transplant. Any luck I’ve had has gone to him. I need to have. It’s a miracle!” The smile says it all. What can Martinez throw at him that he hasn’t already tackled?

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