Sean McComb sets his sights on an in-ring return


Mick Kane

SEÁN McComb was expecting to have another busy year inside the boxing ring. The 27-year-old Belfastman fought five times in each of the previous two years, winning every fight to build a 10-0 record after turning professional. Unfortunately for McComb—and the rest of the world—the Covid-19 pandemic struck and put paid to any plans he may have had.

McComb (above) has been left to train by himself at home.

“Aye, I’ve put a punch bag up around the back, just to keep myself ticking over,” McComb said. “I’ve been training every day, I’ll do a run, then a boxing session, then the punch bag. The second session of the day I’ll do some weights, some circuits. It’s not the same, enough to keep me ticking over but nowhere near normal training.”

In his last fight in February, McComb fought his strongest opponent to date, Argentinian Mauro Maximilliano Godoy. The Argentinian had a good record with 32 wins and only five defeats at the time. McComb headlined for the first time at Belfast’s iconic Ulster Hall, he was due to headline again at the end of April against Craig Evans.

“It was a step up in opponent, very good record, 20 odd KO’s, a winning record with just the five losses.” McComb said as he reflected on his win over Godoy. “It was a step up but I rose to the occasion. The better the opponent the better I was. I had a full eight-week training camp to focus specifically on my opponent and I think that showed on fight night. I put on a dominant performance which forced him to retire in the sixth round.

“He had 32 fights, I had only 10, he fought Vargas who had fought for a world title. So that’s the level, a big step. He was a big puncher so I had to be aware of that, which made me perform better. I was just about to move down a weight, I don’t care about the rankings to be honest. I was ranked at super lightweight, I was moving down to lightweight and was due to fight the number six ranked Craig Evans. If I won then I would have been in contention for title fights.”

Last August, McComb had the chance to box as part of the Féile an Phobail at Falls Park, it was anticipated that boxing would feature again this year having proved a massive success. McComb tells us what it was like to fight around the corner from his house.

“Yeah the fight last year was on BT Sport,” he said. “A phenomenal atmosphere in the Falls Park. I live a stone’s throw away from there. I actually walked from my house to the venue. The atmosphere was unbelievable on the Falls Road, all your home support. It was on TV as well, a massive opportunity; I think 10,000 tickets sold out. Massive crowd and experience for me to fight in front of that crowd, I loved every bit of it.”

For a serious fighter, his main concern now will be the potential cancellations of events, but he is as much in the dark as boxing fans about how the future will look.

“I don’t know, they usually have shows announced by now, with dates out,” he said. “The Féile lasts for a week, with comedians, concerts and the boxing, usually the whole line-up would be announced by now. The whole world doesn’t know how to approach things, we just have to see how it goes.”

MTK Scotland opened up a gym in Holytown in Lanarkshire a couple of years ago and an Irish presence quickly began to grow as MTK’s Irish contingent began to train there, some have moved on to other trainers or retired but McComb still does his fight camps in Lanarkshire.

“I’m still with Danny Vaughan in Holytown, still working away,” the Belfastman explained. “I’m still in contact with Danny, talking about training and what’s going on. I just have to keep ticking over and as soon as this pandemic is all over then we can put the foot on the gas. I’ve never fought in Scotland, even as an amateur. I would love to. I’ve been to a couple of shows over there and there was a phenomenal atmosphere.

“MTK are putting on a couple of shows a year (in Glasgow and Belfast) giving everyone an opportunity. The talent’s there, all the way to grassroots, so it’s up to MTK to give the opportunity for the talent to showcase and they are doing that.”

Anyone who has a look at any MTK social media regularly, may notice McComb pop up from time to time with some Irish language lessons in a good initiative to raise the profile of the language.

“I enjoy doing that for MTK, to talk in my native language, just every day talk.” McComb said. “Just try to give some greetings in Irish. It’s nice, I’m starting to notice it now, obviously a lot of people are out walking for exercise at moment, they are greeting me in Irish and saying hello as Gaeilge. It’s nice to see. I went to an Irish school as a kid, it’s good to see people are greeting each other in Irish, it’s something I would like to see more of.”

Last year, Irish programme Fir Fáinne put on a show featuring boxer Paddy Barnes trying to learn Irish, the show also featured his stablemates McComb and Tyrone McKenna. During the show the trio visited Glasgow GAA club Tír Connaill Harps and took part in a training session. If you want to see how good an Irish speaker Seán is then you can check the programme on BBC iPlayer. It also shows his love of GAA.

“A lot of boys from GAA would message me on social media,” he said. “I stayed in touch with a few of the boys, but I’ve never had the chance to go back and play, obviously with boxing. I haven’t played since I was about 17, when I did play I was good at it. It’s always Antrim for me.”