Chris Eubank Jr seems to have influence on his career from his dad. Does that affect him in the long run?
Shane McGuigan: I’ve come from a similar background to Chris Eubank where we’ve had privileged upbringings. I remember going to the gym every single time when I was an amateur boxing every single person in that gym, whether I was 15 years-old boxing seniors, everyone wanted to chin me. That’s what Eubank has too. He has a name where everyone wants to knock him out because of that name. They want to go home and say, ‘I chinned a Eubank,’ to their friends and family. I had the same because I was a McGuigan, son of a world champion boxer. When you’re a son of someone famous and iconic like that, that’s what you get. I give him credit in that respect because he will have had to learn in the tough way but he’s in there with someone on 17 February that I feel is way better than him. He’s not stubborn and ignorant, he’s clever and intelligent. George is similar to Billy Joe Saunders in terms of his boxing IQ and look what happened when Eubank faced him. The difference between George and Billy Joe Saunders is when he makes you miss, he hits you back hard and Billy Joe will just pick you apart. Eubank will get punished for any mistakes he makes against George.
You say people wanted to “chin you” in the gym. Can you name anyone who we know?
No, not really. But I will tell you that I boxed on the same shows as Conor McGregor. We boxed on a show in Crumlin together at the ABC where they put on these shows where there are 50 or 60 bouts in a day and I would always go to those shows and get one or two fights in so you’d always be guaranteed a fight there. I remember seeing Conor McGregor box on them shows so it’s mad to think of where he is now. It’s amazing to think he went from those busy hall shows to a world stage where he’s a mega international star now.
Does the trainer-promoter relationship work better with you and your dad?
Being with my dad has made it better because I don’t have that experience of fighting in the ring for world titles but he does. We have world champions in our gym that have been developed because of that. Chantelle Cameron is a world champion in the women’s game, we have George training here and it won’t be long before Josh Taylor gets his hands on a world title.
My dad is a guy who keeps himself clean in the matters outside of the ring and most speak of him as a gentleman. He has all his faculties in tact and he’s a real success story out of boxing. He’s made good money, won world titles and kids that come through the doors of our gym are in awe of him. He’s clear as a whistle, he’s still married and got a great relationship with his kids. That’s a true success story. It’s a good thing to have my dad in the gym because we work well together.
Josh Taylor is one fighter that is really impressing at the moment. How far can he go?
He’s a fighter that I would never try and keep away from certain opponents. I believe he has the ability to beat anybody in the 140lbs division. That’s a great fighter to work with. He can overcome any challenge and Mikey Garcia is one of the best pound for pound fighters out there, let alone Josh’s division. He will beat Sergey Lipnets and become a four-weight world champion. But in three or four fights time, I believe Josh Taylor [who fights Humberto Soto on March 3 in Glasgow] can beat them all. We could even move up to welterweight and clear that lot out. I’ve seen him spar former world champions and he’s just world class. We’re building him as a complete fighter and that also means his brand starting with building him in Scotland because we want that entire country captivated by his talent. People will then start to follow this guy around so the plan is to get him a world title at home and then take him to the States.
What are your ambitions for the rest of the McGuigan stable?
Across the gym, we’ve only ever had three losses in 75 fights. We have a successful stable made of winners and I’m not going to sugar coat it because I like to win. I like to be in the big fights, the 50-50 fights and come out the ring with our fighters as winners. I want to make my fighters as good as I can possibly make them so they can never even consider the thought of loss. If they don’t think they can become a world champion, I wouldn’t bother working with them. Someone can say to me, ‘I want to win a British title,’ and that’s great but that’s not where I want to be, I want to produce world champions. They feed off your energy just as much as you feed off theirs. You have to have that ambition across the gym because it pushes others towards success.