HE describes his own style as “tough, awkward and ruthless,” and at 19 Jay Carrigan-McFarlane is Britain’s youngest heavyweight. Currently preparing for his sixth professional outing against Sheffield’s David Howe, the Glasgow born fighter has big plans and a refreshing outlook on the modern fight game.
Jay was keen to highlight one of the biggest flaws in the boxing world: a toxic fixation with unbeaten records.
“Mayweather started that, the ‘I’m undefeated, no one’s beaten me’ and it’s ruined it in a way. Because everyone will pad their records,” he says. Look at a recent night of boxing on Sky and it’s hard not to agree. Match after match of journeyman versus prospect doesn’t make good entertainment for fans.
“People forget that losing isn’t everything. Look at Nigel Benn and Eubank, how many did they have together? Or the fights between Ali and Frazier? He’s still considered the greatest ever but you have to remember people beat him!”
It’s a trend that’s hit Scottish boxing particularly hard, as Scottish boxing legend Alex Arthur has testified. Jay’s more old fashioned approach is a refreshing one that seems like it could do Scottish boxing a lot of good.
“Records are for DJs. If I get an offer in from anybody I would take it. I know where I want to be, I want to win belts. If I have to take a hundred losses to do it, I will. I’ll just keep coming back. I’ll come back stronger and better.”
Jay’s record stands at 3-2 but those blotches don’t tell the whole story. Turning professional at an age where most fighters are still in the amateurs means the young Scot is doing his learning very much ‘on the job’.
“I had 16 amateur fights,” he tells me, “I was something like 12 and 4, most of them inside the distance. I don’t like the way the game’s set up in the amateurs”.
Jay places a heavy emphasis on learning and development and it’s easy to see him becoming a force to be reckoned with as he progresses through the pro ranks. Telling me more about his learning process he said, “My two defeats are the best things that have ever happened to me. They’ve really opened up my eyes to what I should be doing and what I should be.”
One loss came at the hands of David Howe, on points. Jay begrudgingly admits he felt hard done by in terms of the judges scoring, but for the re-match on Friday (September 15) he says, “I’ve got rid of all the doubts and mental blocks that were there before and I think I’ll stop him.”
He’s also recently re-located his training to Livingstone’s Viewpark Boxing Club and says he’s adopted a “whole different training regime”.
“I’m training properly and living the life more. I felt really fit in my last fight, at no point was I feeling tired or anything and I feel as if my boxing’s coming on as well.” Jay’s last opponent, Jone Volau, would certainly agree. Volau came off a TKO win against an 11-0 fighter but was put away with relative ease by the young Glaswegian.
“He went down in round one, he went out the ring in five or six and two, three and four I was boxing with my hands down by my side. Just slipping shots, not taking anything, I was dominating it.”
To prepare for the re-match with David Howe, and avenge a contentious points loss, Jay has been sparring Scotland’s premier heavyweight and former Anthony Joshua opponent, Gary Cornish. At 6’7” Cornish’s stature closely mirrors that of Sheffield fighter Howe and should make for perfect preparation as a result.
In speaking to Jay, it’s his drive to challenge himself and to learn that stands out. Far from being discouraged by his two losses they’ve spurred him on and he sounds more motivated than ever.
“I’ve been my own worst enemy in a way because I’ve been adventurous with opponents. I’ve not been wanting guys that are three wins and 79 losses because it’s just padding, just extra padding on a record. I want to fight in fights that are going to be difficult, where I’m going to learn.”
Jay’s willingness to continually challenge himself could shape him into a real stand out fighter in the future. While other heavyweights are tussling with journeymen, Jay’s taking on challenges, and starting at 19 gives the Scot plenty of learning opportunities. Watch this space.
Jay will be stepping out under the lights to avenge his loss to David Howe on September 15 on MTK Scotland’s Boxing Dinner Club promotion in Glasgow.