The new-look middleweight prospect James McGirt, Jr., 19-1-1 (9), has developed an invaluable relationship, like a younger brother, with former world light heavyweight and current title challenger Glen Johnson as they’ve sparred together for their upcoming fights.
McGirt’s takes on veteran Angel “Toro” Hernandez, 28-7 (16), Friday, January, 16, on ESPN2 in a 10-round co-feature against from Key West, Florida. Hernandez, who took “Winky” Wright 12 rounds in their 2003 IBF light middleweight title fight, is a former NABF title holder. Johnson fights Daniel Judah on February 27 at the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood, Florida.
McGirt and his father/head trainer, “Buddy,” drove 2 ½ hours back and forth from Vero Beach to Miami in order to spar with Johnson. James got much more out of the sessions than merely great work in the ring.
“I got some great work but started a friendship,” James explained. “Glen is an older fighter who schooled me about what it’s like to be a pro boxer. He let me know what to do and what not to do. I really respect him a lot for that.”
“Glen and his entire team treated us very well for the whole camp,” Buddy McGirt added. “They offered to put James up but I wanted him to understand the sacrifices it takes in this game. I really want to thank Glen Johnson. He’s a great guy.
"He talked to my son when they sparred and afterwards, too. He took a liking to my son and talked to him a lot. It’s one thing when I tell James something – I’m his father and trainer – but coming from Glen really meant a lot to James.”
James’ manager, Dennis Witherow, completely agrees with the McGirts. “In this sports there are few men like Glen,” he commented. “He knows the ups and downs and I am thankful that he has been willing to share that with James. He has earned everything he’s gotten from this sport and, hopefully, he gets his much deserved shot at another world title soon.
“In James last fight with Marcus Upshaw (10-round majority draw on Nov. 11), I let James know exactly what was coming from the crowd. We love our fans and I want them to know we listened. We have followed the advice of President-Elect Obama and made a change. I hope they all watch ESPN2 on Friday so they can see for themselves what the new James McGirt is all about.”
Mexican warrior Hernandez has defeated J.C. Candelo and Frankie Randall and has fought, in addition to Wright, Kassim Ouma, Roshii Wells and Raymond Joval, who McGirt defeated last year by 10-round decision against for his most significant victory to date.
“Hernandez has been in there against a lot of good fighters,” James remarked. “But I know that I’ve put in a lot of good work and I’m ready for a great fight.”
Two-time world champion “Buddy” McGirt switched his son’s training methods back to more old-school routines and he’s convinced James is prepared to take the next step. “Hernandez is very tough,” he commented. “I was there for his fight against Winky and I remember it very well. I know how he fights and what he’ll try against my son.
"We’re prepared for the best of Hernandez. James was great throughout training camp. I know my son and what he has to do. I’ll take partial blame for his two bad performances (loss to Carlos DeLeon, Jr. and draw with Upshaw). I was lax on some things. I know how to get the best out of him and that’s what we’ve worked so hard on in this camp.