BY CHRIS MCNULTY
THE inscription on his left shoulder bears the Latin message ‘Amat Victoria Curam’ – ‘victory loves carefulness’ – and John Hutchinson has gone through plenty of careful preparation as he goes in search of history this weekend.
On Saturday night, the ‘The Buncrana Banger’ goes up against Galway’s Peter McDonagh for the vacant Irish light middleweight title in Reading.
The 27-year old unbeaten orthodox (5-0-2, 1 KO) meets the veteran McDonagh at the Rivermead Leisure Centre on the Hennessy Sports, Live on Channel Five card and is aiming to become the first Donegal man to win an Irish belt.
You have to scan the history books all the way back to 1955 for the last time a Donegal boxer even fought for an Irish pro title. In July ‘55, another Buncrana man, Joe Quinn, lost the middleweight decider to Cliff Garvey in Dublin.
Hutchinson turned professional in 2012 and is unbeaten in his seven fights to date – but his match with Connemara’s McDonagh, an experienced slugger of some 50 contests (21-28-1, 2 KO) will be the biggest he’s faced.
He’s ready for the war.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” he told the Donegal News this week.
“This is what it’s all about. This is what I always set out to do when I took up boxing. This has come up at a good time, I’ve been in fight training and I just jumped at the chance to take it on.
“I feel ready for it. I’ve been in training camp since January and I feel good. I’m hoping to make history.”
Hutchinson scored a debut win in August 2012 when he defeated Darren Cruise in Castlebar before he to Odyssey Arena, Belfast that December. Last February, the on-form Inishowen man floored Lithuanian Mantas Bakstinas in Birmingham during the opening round.
He met Healy again for the Celtic Warriors Middleweight title, but the bout stopped due to an accidental clash of heads.
Hutchinson’s American debut, a meeting with Robert Brando-Hunt, ended prematurely because of a head clash, too, but the Buncrana man had his sights fixed and, after defeating Deividas Sajauka in Belfast, he went head-to-head with Brando-Hunt again at the Irish Cultural Center in Canton, Boston.
That bout in October is the most recent on Hutchinson’s card and it was a sensational 40-36 points win over four rounds where the Donegal man out-gunned the American thanks largely to a series of punishing body shots.
Since the end of last summer, Hutchinson has been based in Birmingam, where he trains under Mark Wall at the Prospects Boxing Academy.
He said: “It’s quality training. I’m in the best shape of my life.
“Mark is an ex army man and there’s no hiding. He has an app on his phone that tells him if we aren’t up at 6 o’clock in the morning for our run. He’ll just call us and tell us to get out of bed. He takes us to the pool as well where we have half an hour to do 26 lengths. If we don’t meet the target, we have to do more.
“I always come forward fighting but this gym that I’m in now, they’ve changed my style a bit. I never be on the backfoot. I have four different trainers now and they’re giving me a bit of everything. The sparring I’ve been getting has been top class. My preparation has been 100 per cent.”
Hutchinson spent some time with Tony Simms in London, too, and in recent weeks has spareed the Welsh middleweight champion Frankie Borg – ‘I was very comfortable with him’, he reckoned.
The Irish light middleweight title has been left vacant by Lee Murtagh’s retirement and McDonagh is aiming to become a two-weight Irish champion having won the lightweight title at The Point in 2006.
McDonagh lost his sister to cancer in January and it is her birthday on Monday, St Patrick’s Day.
“There’s no losing, I have to win this fight,” McDonagh said this week.
The 36-year old, who has been in Marbella preparing at Matthew Macklin’s gym, will come up against Hutchinson and a big army of supporters. Buncrana lad Oisin Quinn will carry the Donegal flag into the ring for Hutchinson, a huge Celtic fan, whose trunks bare the four-leaf clover and ‘1888’, the year the club was formed.
“I’m down as the away fighter, but there are so many coming over I’ll have a lot of support,” he said.
“There is a coach load coming from home and the John Mitchels GAA club are taking a coach down too. They’re all behind me, fair play to them – there’d be no better weekend than St Patrick’s weekend to win a title like this.”
The tattoo tells us that ‘victory loves carefulness’ and, since defeating Brando-Hunt in October, Hutchinson has had his eye to detail.
“People can expect a changed and smarter John,” he said.
“I’ll be coming out improved and stronger and it’s going to be a ten round fight with the makings of an Irish classic that’s for sure – I’m in it for the long haul.”
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