Titles: WBA featherweight champion 1985-1986 Record: 32-3 Born: February 28, in Clones, Ireland Years active: 1981-1989 Nickname: The Clones Cyclone Barry McGuigan was more than just a boxer for the people of Ireland, he was a uniting force in a time of heavy tensions and fighting between Ireland's Catholics and protestants. Their slogan was "Let Barry do the fighting." Barry was one of the few boxers who was known to non-sports as well as hard core boxing fans the world over. McGuigan a Catholic showed the people of Ireland that they could live as one, since he was married to a protestant woman. Quite simply Barry represented both Northern and Southern Ireland, and it was said he could have been voted president of Ireland if only he had thrown his hat in that ring. McGuigan was solely responsible for the return of Ireland's King's Hall in Belfast which had been closed for 20 years. But Barry also boxed well to earn a place here and in 1985 was thought of as one of the best pound for pound boxers in the world. His was not a long or distinguished reign to be sure, but it did leave a lasting impression. His fights were exciting brawls in which McGuigan would force his style and will on his foes. Maybe I list him because it seemed he could have done so much more? Like others in boxing contractual problems seemed to zap McGuigan of his love for the sport. McGuigan was a pressure fighter who seemed as if he had crown up in Mexico instead of Ireland where the stand up boxing style was preferred. Barry would drive forward mixing head and body blows while forcing opponents into a corner with great footwork that seemed to cut of the ring almost instinctively. Once he had his opponents on the ropes he would rip off hard accurate shots to the body and head. McGuigan (one of 8 children) was mentored by his father who first allowed him to box at age 13 where he quickly showed the talent and work ethic to set him apart from the other boys. It was said Barry got his strength by carrying 50 pound bags of potatoes with either hand in the family owned Grocery store. A great amateur career was highlighted by a Gold medal at the commonwealth games in 1978 among his many Irish amateur boxing awards. Barry had a disappointing ending to his amateur career when he was surprisingly beaten at the Moscow Olympics by Zambian Winfred Kabunda. But everyone saw that his pressuring style and bodywork was made more for the pro game. Turning pro in 1981 at the age of 20 he faced a boxer with 58 pro bouts (losing 32) but still put him out in 2 rounds. Barry was not immediately successful however and suffered a defeat in his third fight to Peter Eewbanks by a half a point (even after he dropped his opponent) on the referee's scorecard. Barry credited the loss for motivating him more and no longer relying on his natural talents alone. It must be the truth since he rattled off 11 straight wins on his way to a British featherweight title and he would not loose for another 5 years. In a horrible event before his British title win, McGuigan knocked out opponent Young Ali a solid Nigerian who lay in a coma for 5 months before dying. Barry after a bout with depression and much soul searching decided to go on boxing. In 1983 McGuigan won the British title in easy and impressive fashion knocking out Vernon Penprase in two rounds for the vacant title in Belfast. In the same year McGuigan made his first venture to the United States beating Lavon McGowan in Chicago in a impressive first round knockout. Within two months of beating Penprase for the British title Barry would be in the ring fighting for European honors. Against Italian Valerio Nati he showed dominating power and speed to overwhelm him and win the vacant European featherweight title. In the fight Nati suffered 3 cracked ribs. McGuigan retained the title three times knocking all challengers out before the 6th round. McGuigan was a very hot property, people were clamoring for him to fight for a world title against either Azumah Nelson or Eusebio Pedroza. McGuigan ended up getting his shot against the reigning 7 year champ Pedroza who was making the 20th defense of his title! But before the title shot Barry fought for 2 years against better than average boxers. He knocked all 9 of his opponents out in this run except for the classy Juan LaPorte. Dominican Jose Caba was the best win of 1984 for Barry. It was a move up in competition level but Barry showed after a slow start that he was just physically too dominant for most featherweights. 1985 was the watershed year for Barry. It started with a tough bout few thought he should take against former champion Juan Laporte, but McGuigan wanted to prove he belonged in the worlds elite. It was not easy to be sure and McGuigan was in deep trouble in the fifth round having to hold on to get out of the round. The rounds were close but McGuigan had the higher work rate and won 6 rounds on the referees scorecards. The only negative from the fight was that it broke Barry's 18 fight knock out streak. When he finally fought Pedroza it was not in his native Ireland as he had hoped, but he did manage to bring Pedroza to London which was also steadfast behind the popular McGuigan. The fight with Pedroza was much anticipated by the 25,000 at the venue and made McGuigan famous around the world. Perhaps that is why he did not pull out of the fight when he injured his left arm the week before the fight. Still McGuigan opened strong but the fight was close until Barry had Pedroza in deep trouble in the 7th round. From there Barry took the champion out of his fight plan by backing him up with solid body blows. Pedroza was rocked again by a hook in the 13th but his experience helped him escape. McGuigan in the last two rounds rode his pressure fighting style to a lopsided decision win on all three scorecards. The rounds were never one sided with good two way action but Barry proved to fit and strong for the veteran. After the fight Barry dedicated the victory to Young Ali, whose death Barry said he tought about every day. Barry returned to 100,000 thousand people lining the roads to welcome him home. McGuigan desperately wanted to reward his title in Ireland and in his first defense he did so against tough and unbeaten American Bernard Taylor in Belfast's King's Hall. Unlike his title win Barry started this fight slow and Taylor's handpeed had him winning the first 4 rounds with ease. But the persistent body work would slowly pay off as McGuigan took charge from the 6th round on and ended the fight in the 8th. A second defense of the title was also tougher than thought as Danilo Cabrera took McGuigan in the 14th before wilting under the pressure. McGuigan signed to fight Fernando Sosa for his American debut in Las Vegas. The opponent fell out and little known Stevie Cruz was announced as his replacement. The preparation was said to be sloppy for the fight as managerial and ear problems kept McGuire out of camp for stretches. Another problem for the European McGuigan was the fight time temperature as he was not acclimated and suffered dehydration during the bout held in 110 degree (46 C) heat. Knowing he would need a quick finish McGuigan (a 5-1 favorite) came out fast looking for the early knockout which did not happen. As the fight dragged on it was plain to see that Cruz was getting stronger and the better of the action. The fight was still even and up for grabs entering the 10th round. From there Cruz took over (dropping Barry in the 10th) and McGuigan not used to fighting while backing up was in trouble. In the last round which decided the fight McGuigan could be heard to tell his cornermen "Say a prayer for me" as he walked back into the action. Barry was cut on both eyes, dropped 2 times in the 15th but still refused to be counted out. In the final tally Barry lost his title by only a 1 point margin on two of the scorecards. After losing the title things got worse for Barry as law suits began to hit him about his contract with manager Barney Eastwood. McGuigan would be out of the ring for 2 years fighting the various court cases instead of boxers. McGuigan was so upset with his former manager that he was instrumental in unionizing boxers in England. Finally Barry made his comeback at super featherweight in 1988 and scored 3 successive knockouts. While he did win, he was not nearly the same boxer that won the title from Pedroza. Maybe the death of his father (around this time) also played a role in his emotionless wins? After losing to Jim McDonnell on a cut eye the ever smart McGuigan who constantly studied films of himself and others saw what others did and retired. Much like tennis star of the time John McEnroe, Barry could not overcome 2 years of inactivity. At age 28 Barry retired. McGuigan (after trying his hand at race driving) now does color commentary for boxing events on British TV and Personal appearances. McGuigan also does a lot of charity work in England and Ireland.
1981 May 10 Selwyn Bell Dublin KO 2 Jun 20 Gary Lucas Wembley, England KO 4 Aug 3 Peter Eubanks Brighton, England L 8 Sep 22 Jean-Marc Renard Belfast W 8 Oct 27 Terry Pizzarro Belfast KO 4 Dec 8 Peter Eubanks Belfast KO 8 1982 Jan 27 Luis De La Sagra Belfast W 8 Feb 8 Ian Murray Mayfair, England KO 3 Feb 23 Angel Olivar Belfast KO 3 Mar 23 Angelo Licata Belfast KO 2 Apr 22 Gary Lucas Enniskillen, N. Ireland KO 1 Jun 14 Young Ali Mayfair, England KO 6 Oct 5 Jimmy Duncan Belfast KO 4 Nov 9 Paul Huggins Belfast KO 5 1983 Apr 12 Vernon Penprase Belfast KO 2 May 22 Samuel Meck Navan, Ontario KO 6 Jul 9 Lavon McGowan Chicago KO 1 Oct 5 Ruben Herasme Belfast KO 2 Nov 16 Valerio Nati Belfast KO 6 1984 Jan 25 Charm Chiteule Belfast KO 10 Apr 4 Jose Caba Belfast KO 7 Jun 5 Esteban Eguia Kensington, England KO 3 Jun 30 Paul DeVorce Belfast KO 5 Oct 13 Felipe Orozco Belfast KO 2 Dec 19 Clyde Ruan Belfast KO 4 1985 Feb 23 Juan Laporte Belfast W 10 Mar 26 Farid Gallouze Wembley, England KO 2 Jun 8 Eusebio Pedroza London W 15 (Wins WBA and World Featherweight Titles) Sep 28 Bernard Taylor Belfast KO 9 (Retains World Featherweight Title) 1986 Feb 15 Danilo Cabrera Dublin KO 14 (Retains World Featherweight Title) Jun 23 Steve Cruz Las Vegas L 15 (Loses World Featherweight Title) 1988 Apr 20 Nick Perez Muswell Hill, England KO 4 Jun 25 Francisco Tomas Da Cruz Luton, England KO 4 Dec 1 Julio Miranda Edmonton KO 8 1989 May 31 Jim McDonnell Manchester, England KO by 4