By Leonard Gunning
In a spectacular performance, Brian Magee claimed the vacant European super middleweight title extending his record to 33–3–1 (23) by completing a stunning seventh round knockout of hometown favourite Mads Larsen at the NRGi Arena in Aarhus, Denmark.
A number of parallels had been drawn between the two thirty-something southpaws in the lead up to the bout and both contestants entered the ring without a fight between them in 2009.
The Belfast man’s game plan was to take control of the ring and pressurise the former IBO super middleweight champion but the Danish banger, who had only tasted defeat once in over ten years, was buoyed by the support of a raucous home crowd and barely took a step backwards throughout the whole of the first round.
Magee edged his way slowly through the first half of round one, establishing his jab and seeking some early speculative openings before landing a number of telling hooked right hands to the unguarded temple of Larsen.
The second and third cantos were keenly and closely contested, however Magee’s work was more accurate and frequent. The Belfast battler’s domination of the ‘Golden Boy’ was becoming evident towards the end of the third as Magee began switching shots from head to body at will, which left the German based Danish fighter visibly uncomfortable.
Magee, a highly decorated amateur who won a silver medal for Ireland at the 1998 European Amateur Championships in Minsk, Belarus, sensed weakness in the former WBA and IBF title challenger and piled forward in the forth round in order to exacerbate the damage he was inflicting on a fighter who appeared to visibly wilt under a torrential downpour of ripping hooks.
As the fifth round began the pre-fight betting odds made available by bookmakers looked extremely generous as Magee served up more of the same with Larsen now wincing with every shot to the body. Magee was then warned for a low blow but Larsen appeared to exaggerate the effects in a possible attempt to seek an early exit from a contest that was quickly slipping out of his grasp.
The writing was on the wall in the sixth as Magee chased Larsen across the ring in an attempt to finish the contest but his experienced opponent clinched and attempted to spoil his efforts. Larsen’s endeavours to stall Magee’s progress were in vein as the County Antrim man inflicted a further two counts on Larsen, who was saved by the bell.
A brave Larsen come out for the seventh round but it didn’t last long. Magee unleashed a furious flurries of hooks and upper cuts, Larsen crouched forward but he could now longer take the relentless pressure as Magee delivered a final right upper to the now waist height jaw of the ‘Golden Boy’, who sank once more to the canvas and spat out his gumshield.
Finnish referee, Erkki Meronen, began another count, which was dispensed with before he reached five as he waved the fight off after only 0.15 of the round.
A sporting and applicative Danish crowd applauded the new Irish champion and the ring became a throng of Magee supporters, family and team. A Roman style laurel wreath was placed around the neck of the champion and with obvious glee the long time servant of Irish boxing, and a tireless trainer, exclaimed:
“I can’t describe it, it’s been such a year. After that I really deserve this and the so does the team. It’s for them as well as me - Pat Magee, JR and Bernardo Checa all worked so hard and it’s paid off.”
“I knew it was going to be tough before I came here. It was like he was the matador and I was the bull. But the pressure paid off and the plan worked out in the end. Desire and will got me that result, Checa polished me up and all the work paid off,” declared Magee.
Magee, who voluntarily relinquished his British super middleweight title so that Liverpudlians Tony Dodson and Tony Quigley could battle for the belt in 2009, now emulates the great Charlie Nash, who also won a European title in Denmark.
After claiming the biggest payday and surely the greatest honour of his career a number of doors will now surely open but with the majority of the leading super middleweights contenders now contractually bound by the ongoing Super Six tournament a potential fight with German WBO champion Robert Stieglitz may be the quickest route to a world title for the likeable Northern Irishman.