Sean McComb: “You Only Get One Debut & I Could Have Asked For No Bigger Occasion Than That.”
By Oliver McManus
Sean McComb: this is your life. Okay that’s not exactly how I started our conversation but the principle was fairly accurate.
Following a fight with Craig Evans being postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic – a fight McComb wants to be rearranged “as soon as possible” – we decided to chew the fat over his first ten pro contests.
Having had those in the space of 18 months there’s been very little time for the 27 year old to sit back and reflect. More accurately, then, I should say: Sean McComb, this is your career (so far, anyway). Let’s break it down and see what The Public Nuisance had to say.
On debuting at Windsor Park on a card topped by Carl Frampton vs Luke Jackson:
“I think I turned professional at the exact right time with all the factors lining up perfectly. It was a real special moment and I’ll remember it forever. Tyson Fury was on the same show, as well, and the local hero in Carl Frampton. When the whole occasion came together it was overwhelming, to be honest, because I’d kind of assumed I’d be kept busy on small-hall shows. I was fighting two before Paddy Barnes’ world title fight so I had a good time slot, a roaring crowd and I was just trying to soak everything in.
“You only get one debut and I could have asked for no bigger occasion than that.”
On continuing that momentum with fights on Amir Khan’s undercard and Boston, Massachusetts:
“It’s got that wow factor to it, hasn’t it? People mention it to you and because you’re so caught up in your next fight you kind of just take it all in your stride. Looking back, though, I don’t think it’s even possible to have wished for a better start to my career. I probably won’t fully realise the gravity of it all until I retire and get to tell people all about it. There are so many (British) world champions who don’t even get to have a fight in America and I did that in my third pro fight.”
On fighting Renald Garrido at Falls Park:
“It’s hard to say it was a dream come true because I genuinely never even thought it was possible until the show was announced. I was very comfortable on the evening and I’ve never watched it back so I couldn’t tell you too many details about the actual fight but it was an incredible event to be a part of. Danny (Vaughan) told me afterwards it was probably an 8/10 because he thought there were opportunities to take that I didn’t. At the end of the day I can cope with it being an 8/10 because I’m in there to learn and that has helped me to improve as a fighter afterwards.”
On the fight in which he learned the most:
“(Emiliano) Dominguez Rodriguez was a very tough operator: small, stocky, come-forward. I stood and traded with him but I did have to adapt to his style a little bit. Once I was able to get my shots off I found it easier to move around the ring: he sort of found momentum from that, though, so I did slow it down in parts to break that up and fight in the pocket. He got me with a body shot (in the fourth) but I felt in control so I took the knee just to regather my thoughts. I learned with every round because every round I sort of had to reset and go again.”
On his last fight, a sixth round retirement of Mauro Godoy:
“I really enjoyed that, I really did. It was the first fight in which Danny Vaughan and I had made a specific game-plan to the opponent and brought in tailored sparring. Everything that unfolded during the fight was what we had worked on in camp and I’m not just saying that to make Danny feel good. We had to be fully focussed in that fight because Mauro was coming in with this reputation as a heavy-puncher. Danny’s been round the houses and has got that experience so you can trust what he says but he will continually look for my input, too.”
On headlining at Ulster Hall:
“It was unreal: the atmosphere was breathtaking. I never expected that in a million years (because) there was no title on the line but they came out in numbers. It took me back to when I was a kid watching Damaen Kelly and Eamonn Magee and thinking ‘jeez, these boys are the real deal.’ To experience that first atmosphere was unbelievable because the support is phenomenal and it has been since day one. I think any fighter, wherever they’re from, will tell you the atmosphere in Belfast is second to none.
On the increasing calibre of his opponents:
“I’m always learning, I’ve still got amateur habits that I want to get out of, and the best way to learn is to step-up each time. There was no point in me fighting a four, six rounder and then rewarding myself with time off: I constantly want the next fight and that keeps my mind busy. I know the level I can reach and, until I’m there, there’s no point in hanging around.”
On the frustrations of lockdown:
“At the start of lockdown I went off the rails a little bit and ate a lot of crappy food, to be honest. I was in the middle of camp (for the Craig Evans fight) so it was easy to get frustrated. It felt as though the hard work was for nothing but I’ve realised I can take this opportunity to get fitter, get stronger and get a step ahead. After about two weeks I got fed up with eating crap so I pulled myself together and was able to make a little gym in the back garden and crack on.”
And finally, a last word, on a potential fight with Gary Cully:
“I’m expecting tough fights and I’m willing to fight in those 50-50 fights but, let’s be honest, they are 50-50 on paper but I’m confident they are more like 80-20 in reality. I honestly look at other fighters around me and it gives me reason to be confident. Look this fight with Gary has been talked about a fair bit and it’s certainly a fight I feel is realistic: we’re both capable of going a long way in the sport and it only makes sense to meet in the middle and have an all-Irish showdown. I would love it, the Irish public would love it, and I think we have a responsibility to give them that showdown at the pinnacle of the sport.”
It’s fair to say that in the first ten fights of McComb’s professional career he’s had more experiences than many world champions can only dream of. The exciting part is he’s only just begun. In ten, fifteen fights when he’s in his pomp and hitting full stride there’ll be cause for a mural in Turf Lodge. To use Sean McComb’s own words: it certainly has got the wow factor.