Matt McCarthy

Matt McCarthy
  
As I watch Matt McCarthy work some pad drills with coach Terry Coulter he looks a slick operator.  He switch hits with ease – southpaw, orthodox, southpaw orthodox – and at the dictation of the old hand cockney Coulter.  The pair are in tune – the dictation Coulter utilises isn’t always verbal and when it is, it is only short instruction to which McCarthy reacts.  It’s the same when the welterweight from Essex moves on to some ab work – Coulter holds the feet as McCarthy sits up, grazing the coaches shoulder before controlling the lie back down.  This is repeated with ease until the man in charge decides that enough work has been done for now.
 
During the routine not many words are exchanged – they don’t need to be.  The synchronisation between fighter and trainer is obvious.  The major source of noise in the room is generated from McCarthy’s demolition job of the pads – “PAH PAH PAH” – he exhales, relentlessly laying lefts and rights to both body and head of the make believe opponent.  I have yet to see McCarthy in a boxing match, but am assuming his vociferous style carries itself through to fight night.
 
I will get the chance on October 17th at York Hall when McCarthy will make his 14th outing as a professional.  To date he holds a record of 12 wins, a single loss and no draws.  The loss, which occurred in July 2014, prompted a number of changes within camp McCarthy as Matt tells us:  “I was fighting under Miranda Carter in Essex, it was going alright. Was training under Mark Bates when I got my first defeat against Chris Truman (13-4-2) so I decided to switch my team around for the better. Now I’m managed and trained by Terry Coulter – we’ve been together for a year and had three fights together and won all three – two unanimous and one knockout against hard opponents. Next one is an unbeaten fella from Ireland and we’re not promoted by Steve Goodwin so it’s all going brilliant.”
 
Often you hear of fighters making changes to their teams as a result of a loss and fear that the decision may be rash.  However seeing the relationship between McCarthy and Coulter it is clear that there this switch was more rationale than rash – the two exchange insults and barbed compliments like father and son more than fighter and trainer.  Another change that has come about with the new training camp is a settled weight division – previously McCarthy has worked hard to make welterweight to the detriment of his fighting.  “We boxed at welter, but I box so well at light middleweight – I’m strong, I’m fit, I’m sharp, I’ve got a six pack now with three weeks out – I’m comfortable and happy to fight anyone” he says with confidence and vigour.
His next challenge is the undefeated Casey Blair (3-0-0).  Untested in his three fights, which have all taken place at middleweight, McCarthy will be confident going in to October 17th at York Hall on the ‘We Never Stop’ card.  “Hopefully Blair will come and give me a test, then we can move on to the English light middleweight title soon.”
 
The title the Essex fighter currently aspires for is held by Navid Mansouri (15-1-2), who was last in the ring back in July this year when he won the title in a split decision against Sam Sheedy.  However McCarthy isn’t confident he can tempt him in to the ring.  “We want the English title, to fight Navid Mansouri – I don’t think he would want to take it but we love that fight. There’s plenty of fights out there, I’m game and happy to fight anyone – you’ve got to be in it to win it. October 17th is only a six rounder, but he’s unbeaten so it should be good. Then we’re fighting again on December 5th in an eight or ten rounder against good opposition which will hopefully be for an eliminator.”
 
His eagerness is kept in check by coach Coulter who explains to me that his charge has age on his side and potential to burn.  “He’s 22, he’s young and eager. I don’t want to rush him because of his age but I honestly believe if he carries on as he is he can go to the British title providing he’s brought there right and not rushed. We can’t take silly risks but we need to be taking on better opponents all the time. We could all be 20 and 0 and fight nobody.”
 
It is a realistic view from the experienced trainer and manager who has guided careers before and seen bright stars burn out.  Coulter was the beneficiary of the TKO loss that McCarthy suffered last year – something that he sees as being an important step on the career path.  “He’s had his first loss and that was the best thing that ever happened to Matt losing that fight. He should thank Chris Truman for that because it’s made him the way he is, he’s good in the gym and really dedicated. I have to put the brakes on him sometimes, tell him to slow up. He’s coming on lovely, we work well together and have a good rapport and put everything into it. I spend a lot of time with him and I think between us we could go British title no problem at all and beyond. You’re only as good as your last fight so we just keep focussed all the time and keep on the ball. He’s a great prospect, sometimes want to run before he can walk but that’s the eagerness in him. I think the right fights at the right time will get us where we need to be and his confidence is growing all the time.”
  
Away from the interview Coulter tells me about his first interactions with McCarthy and the visible differences he sees in the man today and the man of 12 months ago.  At the time McCarthy was reluctant to travel to other gyms and take on sparring, with his confidence at a low ebb.  That fighter is unrecognisable from the one that stands before me and who I saw throwing shows on the pads that reverberated around the room.  Part of the confidence was displayed in his last outing in the ring against Zoltan Turai (6-4-0) – as McCarthy recalls the experience in the ring against a man who did his best to dent the Essex man’s ego: 
 
“I had Turai in an eight rounder, he came with a 66% KO record.. We came out in the first round and I hit him with five punches – he laughed at me! He was a strong, strong fighter but I won every round so convincingly, he just walked on to everything. In the seventh round I put him down and he got back up – he wasn’t laughing then and in the eighth round I knocked him out, he wasn’t laughing at the end of it. As I was working inside I was taking the piss out of him – if I’m winding him up he will keep coming at me, he did it all night and it was him getting beat up not me!”

Alas, McCarthy is not a man to be laughed at.  He tells me about his favoured styles, that he can work off of the front or back foot, orthodox or southpaw, move or stay in the pocket.  Comfortable in each it allows him to adapt – “Me and Terry work on so many things in the gym we have a plan A, B and C so it doesn’t matter who we fight”.  With so many options available though, is it hard to implement a set style in the ring?  “It depends really – at the end of a round I come back to the corner and Terry tells me what I need to be doing. I listen properly to him, we get the win and it’s as simple as that. But it depends who I’m fighting – if it’s a person who comes out and is orthodox and we think southpaw will work better then we’ll do that. It depends what’s landing better, I take Terry’s advice and then put it into practice the next round.”

The pair work alongside the strength and conditioning coach that Matt brought with him to the camp (“I know about strength and conditioning, but he teaches me stuff every day” says Terry) and the triumvirate decided to team up with Promoter Steve Goodwin.  Matt and Terry had nothing but praise for the Goodwin Promotions setup:

“Terry is my coach and my manager and he has a lot of experience. He knows what he’s doing and he’s changed my career about in the last year. We had a sit down and spoke and had a lot of options to go with different people. We had a meeting with Steve and discussed plans – everything he said he has stuck to and the bloke’s a gentleman and does what he says. It was a no brainer” says McCarthy.  It is a view shared by trainer and Manager.  “We have got the right team around him, Steve is brilliant and I can’t fault the man. He’s got loads of shows, he means what he says and he cares for the fighters. I’ve been in the game a long, long time and he is a genuine guy.”

Logistics are difficult for the training, Terry travels each night to get the best out of Matt.  But through speaking to the two you realise that the emotional distance travelled between the two far outweighs the road miles.  By the end of 2015 McCarthy aims to have cemented his position as the mandatory challenger for the English light middleweight title.  From here Coulter is confident that they can move higher together – for this team, the journey has a long way to go.
 
Matt wished to thanks the sponsors who assist him through camps and support his professional boxing career.  These include AEM Demoliton and Whyte Contractors.