-This editorial was written by guest contributor Sean Gannon-
I walk into the gym looking like any other regular guy. My first day back after COVID, but the problem is that my gym is the one and only Peter Welch's Gym. The South Boston boxing hub where you run into legends all the time. Kevin MacBride, the giant of a man that beat Mike Tyson was there finishing off another hard workout.
"You're fighting Holyfield next if you win. You would be the only man to ever beat both Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield. Who are you sparring in training camp to get ready for this historic fight?" I asked him.
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MacBride paused for a moment, and then said, "Looks like it's going to be you." Sh*t, I thought. I hadn't really thought about it, but it made sense. We had a lot of skilled guys, but all at the lighter weights. Our last world champion had been WBA featherweight Javier Fortuna, and even at age 50, I was still the second-best heavyweight in the gym. And if I didn't do the thankless job of sparring partner for this, nobody would.
Heavyweights are different in this regard than other divisions. Where a super gifted guy might just spar bigger opponents if he had no suitable sparring in his own weight. In the heavyweight division, there simply are no bigger guys to get and it's easy to get shut out of training.
It really hit me one day when one of my old sparring partners, a 265-pound regional champ ran into me years after his retirement, and openly cried as he thanked me for all the work I had given him over the years. He had been so big, so strong, and so fast that people always made excuses to avoid sparring him. He had retired as a respected regional champion with a knockout win over a former Ultimate Fighting Championship champ, but I always wondered if he could have gone further than that if his skill development hadn't been crippled by his lack of sparring.
The mere fact that I had given him work every day I saw him, had been enough to move him to tears.
"You're going to have to give me a few weeks on that one Kevin, but If you need me, I'm your man."
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Another exciting fighter out of Peter Welch's Gym is the man with the best nickname in fight sports. The ferocious James "The Honeybadger" Murrin. He will be making his long-anticipated pro boxing debut on July 31 at the Mosely Arena in Dedham, Massachusetts.
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Of special note on that card is undefeated welterweight prospect James Perella of Manchester (7-0) pictured above, sparring against the much less photogenic Murrin and other PWF fighters.