"Winning my world title was a dream come true. And, of course, going into the Boxing Hall of Fame"
James "Buddy" McGirt
By Bill Tibbs
Over the next few weeks Maxboxing will chat with some of this year’s Boxing Hall of Fame inductees – certainly one of the sport’s highest honors. This week, former world champion, James “Buddy” McGirt.
James “Buddy” McGirt fought for 15 years as a professional, amassed an outstanding record over 80 fights (73-6-1, 48 KO’s) and faced some of the very best fighters of his era. McGirt was a 2-time world champion winning the IBF light welterweight and WBC welterweight titles in his career. McGirt’s impressive resume saw him face Frankie Warren, Saoul Mamby, Howard Davis Jr., Meldrick Taylor, Edwin Curet, Tony Baltazar, Joe Manley, Simon Brown and Pernell Whitaker to name a few.
Since retiring, McGirt has transitioned into training fighters and has since become one of boxing’s most respected trainers working with (late champions) Arturo Gatti and Vernon Forrest, also Hasim Rachman, Antonio Tarver, Paulie Malignaggi, and Sergey Kovalev, among others.
And, this year, McGirt will be inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame in June to add another chapter to his already outstanding career in the sport. Maxboxing had a chance to chat with the Florida-based McGirt, from his training camp in California. McGirt, busy training Sergey Kovalev for an upcoming title defense, looked back on his career and looked ahead to his upcoming Hall of Fame induction.
Bill Tibbs: Hi James, Thanks for taking a minute to chat.
James McGirt: Hi Bill, no problem.
BT: Let’s get right into it. You must be thrilled with your Hall of Fame induction in June. When a young guy turns pro, is something like the Hall of Fame even dreamed of?
JM: All I wanted to do was win a title. Everybody says that but that is really all I wanted to do. But, no, the Hall of Fame wasn’t something I even thought about.
BT: You really faced a who’s who of your era. Looking back over your career, let me hit you with a few quick questions.
JM: Frankie Warren. My first loss as a pro and then I beat him in our rematch in a world title defense. Tough guy to fight.
BT: Hardest puncher?
JM: The hardest puncher I ever faced was a guy named Vincent Releford. When he hit me to the body it felt like he had stabbed me.
BT: Greatest thrill in your career?
JM: Winning my world title was a dream come true. And, of course, going into the Boxing Hall of Fame.
BT: You faced some of the very elite of your era. Any fight you didn’t get that you really wanted?
JM: The rematch with Meldrick Taylor. I really wanted that fight but my manager was nuts, he was crazy, and it didn’t happen. He was great, don’t get me wrong, he was great, but after I won the title Al (manger, Certo) thought he could control everything, but he learned you couldn’t control the TV people.
BT: I have to ask you about working with Arturo Gatti. You were the man seen as really adding longevity to his career by getting him back to boxing and away from the constant brawling. You must still be in disbelief he’s gone at times.
JM: I have great memories of working with Arturo. We had a lot of laughs, a lot of fun, and were in some great fights. Sadly, he just left us far too young.
BT: Was that the most special relationship you ever had working with a fighter?
JM: Arturo was great, like I said, but the two fighters that I had the most special relationship with were the late, great Vernon Forrest and Antonio Tarver. Both those guys treated me very well.
BT: How does James McGirt wanna be remembered?
JM: As a fighter who gave everything he had every time he stepped into the ring.
BT: James, you had a great career, thanks for the memories and I am thrilled for you that you are going into the Hall of Fame. Congratulations, and thanks for the interview.
JM: Thank you Bill, I really appreciate that.