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Barry McGuigan is a former professional boxer and World Featherweight Champion.
Born in 1961, Barry showed great potential as an amateur boxer & represented Ireland in the 1980 Olympics. However, his greatest moment as an amateur came two years prior to the Olympics when he won Gold at the Commonwealth Games in Edmonton.
Barry made the inevitable decision to turn professional in 1981. However, he suffered a setback in his third pro-fight when he was out-pointed by Peter Eubanks. In June 1982 tragedy struck when Young Ali, a Nigerian opponent that Barry had knocked out in 6 rounds died from brain injuries received in the bout. Barry thought long & hard about his future in the sport but eventually decided to continue boxing in the hope of winning a world title & dedicating it to Young Ali.
In April 1983, he took the British title from Vernon Penprase & later the same year he knocked out the Italian, Valerio Nati to claim the European title at featherweight.
All important stateside television coverage soon turned Barry McGuigan into hot property in the US & after his mightily impressive win over ex-world champ Juan La Porte, the dream of a world title fight was realised. The opponent was to be long-reigning WBA featherweight king, Eusebio Pedroza & the venue was Loftus Road – an outdoor football stadium in London.
On 8th June 1985, in front of a partisan crowd of over 27,000, Barry achieved his lifetime ambition by being simply too young, too sharp & too much for the ageing champion, Pedroza. On a remarkable, emotion filled night Barry floored the durable veteran in the 7th round & went on to record a comfortable points victory. Afterwards, Barry remembered Young Ali & dedicated his new title to Ali’s memory.
Barry’s first defence was held in September of 1985 in the King’s Hall in Belfast against the American Bernard Taylor. Barry’s incessant body punching proved too much for Taylor & he quit at the end of the 8th round after taking what Barry later described as the best body punch he’d ever thrown.
In February 1986, Barry defended his title in Dublin against Danilo Cabrera. Shortly after the Cabrera fight Barry’s manager announced a McGuigan defence at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas in June against Steve Cruz. Barry was having difficulties acclimatising to the heat of the Nevada summer & after injuring his ankle it seemed the fight was off. However, his manager insisted that Cruz, a Texan with an average record, would provide no threat to McGuigan’s title.
On 23rd June 1986, Barry lost his title & almost his life in Caesars Palace. In temperatures which topped 125 degrees & after 15 rounds, Barry lost narrowly on points. A delirious McGuigan was rushed to hospital suffering from dehydration. It would be almost two years before Barry would fight again.
In April 1988, Barry returned to the ring under the management of Frank Warren. After 3 high profile comeback victories of varying degrees of success, he was pitted against Jim McDonnell, a competent if unremarkable British fighter. Barry was cut badly in the second round & the fight was stopped due to the gash in the following round.
With no hesitation Barry announced his retirement immediately after the fight & his outstanding record stands at 35 fights, 32 wins & 3 defeats.
Barry remains a familiar face on television as a boxing expert where he displays his perceptiveness & intelligence in discussing the sport. He also appears on various other programmes including ITV’s Hell’s Kitchen where he was crowned the winner in 2007!
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