This weekend, Anthony Joshua attempts to regain his heavyweight titles when rematching Oleksandr Usyk on one of boxing’s biggest cards of the year.
Fans’ favourite Buddy McGirt is in Jeddah and is ready for a ‘first’ in boxing. It’s significant for the man, fighter, and coach that has almost done it all. He has captured world titles himself as a fighter, trained some of the best fighters post-millennium, and was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2019. Yet, despite travelling vast parts of the world courtesy of boxing, McGirt has never set foot in Saudi Arabia.
McGirt told Boxing Social:
“I’m kind of excited to be honest
It’s something different, you know? I think it’s great; it’s good to be a part of history, it’s a great show, the main event [Usyk v Joshua II] is a rematch that everybody has been wanting, you know.
It’s gonna be a great night of boxing. The fans, that is gonna be interesting – I dunno what to expect. But that’s what makes it more fun.”
He was speaking from the Smith Brothers base in Liverpool before flying out earlier this week and has two fighters at opposite ends of their career featuring on the bill. Callum Smith, former super-middleweight king, is attempting to continue a new crusade up at 175lbs, while Ziyad ‘Zizo’ Almaayouf is returning to his father’s home land to begin his own journey, set to make his awaited professional debut. And it was young Almaayouf that had been stealing headlines in the Middle East decked out in green, spending time with WWE superstar, Braun Strowman.
Speaking of his newest charge, McGirt explained:
“He’s getting on good. It’s different for him because a lot of this is new.
It’s hard work but he’s getting it; I told him today that I’m gonna get him a shirt that says School of Hard Knocksbecause this camp, he’s never experienced anything like this. He’s boxing guys, these guys are working, they’re getting on his ass and making him work. It’s either shit or get off the pot…”
Almaayouf had told Boxing Social that linking up with McGirt was by chance, stars aligning. The Brentwood, New York-man agreed:
“Well, it’s funny, you know. He was in the gym with his trainer and he came to me and said, ‘Can you help me, I wanna learn more?’ I said, ‘I gotta speak to your trainer first.’ I said I wanted to speak to both of them together; I didn’t want the trainer to think I went behind his back or anything.
We sat down, we talked, I told his trainer that I would help him out, but he’d still be the head trainer – I didn’t wanna take nobody’s job. I told them I’d help them as much as I could, and then one day, the head trainer said, ‘I’m outta here.’ The kid was like, ‘Buddy, I need your help.’ I couldn’t just say, ‘No,’ I couldn’t turn my back and let him down. That wouldn’t have been right.”
And of Callum Smith, McGirt was succinct in repeating what many boxing fans had pondered during the Liverpool-fighter’s days at 168lbs:
“He is very big. I dunno how the hell he made the weight before but he’s doing great, everything is good. We’re just putting the final touches on what we’re gonna do and we’re getting ready for the 20th.”
While touching down in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia is a fresh experience for the 58-year old, being a part of a huge fight week is nothing new.
He’s seen the pressure, felt the tension, and enjoyed watching it bubble and spill over on fight night. McGirt spoke about Anthony Joshua’s chances, and his advice for the Londoner on Saturday night:
“I would focus on just controlling the tempo and keeping it from the beginning. You can’t lose it because you’ll let Usyk take control, and then you’ll face an uphill battle. In the first fight, I think that Joshua waited too long to get off – you can’t do that with a guy like Usyk, he’ll pick you apart. Everyone is anticipating he’ll be more aggressive with Robert Garcia – that’s what I think, but you never know.”
So, who wins? Oleksandr Usyk or Anthony Joshua? McGirt, as always, remained classy, keeping his cards close to his chest:
“I’m not gonna pick a winner for the second one; I just wanna sit back and watch.”
Before that opening bell rings to settle heavyweight supremacy, the New York native and his two fighters have business to take care of – and that’s the only thing on his mind.