IN one sense, and if looking at it through pessimistic eyes, it could be said that the super-bantamweight fight between Peter McGrail and Marc Leach, announced yesterday (April 4), is the last thing either man needs.

However, when taking into account the speed at which Leach jumped at this relatively short-notice opportunity on April 27, you will see that Leach, desperate for a win, disagrees. Similarly, McGrail, despite originally preparing to fight Ja’Rico O’Quinn, the only man to beat him as a pro, will no doubt view the opportunity to fight Leach, a former British champion, as a solid continuation of his progress and in many ways the ideal replacement fight.

“I heard about it last week,” Leach, 18-3-1 (4), told Boxing News. “I was potentially going to fight on May 11 on a Steve Wood show and then this fight came along. I put the pedal to the metal and focused on this one instead.

“I’ve been training for a fight on May 11, so this is only two weeks earlier. I’ll just up the training a little bit sooner than normal and then I’ll be good to go.”

A sensible fighter, who knows the game inside out, Leach is aware of the fact he can’t be too picky at this moment in time. After all, with him suffering defeat in his last two fights (against Liam Davies and Masood Abdulah), Leach, a former British super-bantamweight champion, finds himself very much towards the back of the domestic queue, determined not only to return to the win column but also again rise to more familiar surroundings.

To do that, a win is needed; any win. Which is why a fight like this one – a fight in which Leach will start as underdog – has to be considered a ballsy and risky move; albeit a necessary one at this stage.

“It’s a massive opportunity to get my name back in the mix,” explained Leach. “My past two performances have been under par and I’ve had my reasons for them. I won’t go into those reasons now, but on April 27 I’ll show what I’m about again and I will be back to my best.

“It’s still one weight up from where I’d normally be fighting, but it’s the weight where I won the British title and I’m comfortable here. There’ll be no excuses on April 27.”

Peter McGrail (Dave Thompson/Matchroom Boxing)

As for McGrail, the man he faces on April 27, Leach considers him an opponent like any other. That is to say, he has seen very little of the former amateur star and is, unlike the rest of us, oblivious to all the talk and hype surrounding McGrail.

“I normally just keep myself to myself, focus on who is in front of me, and then Jamie (Moore, head trainer) and Nigel (Travis, coach) do the rest of the work. I haven’t seen much of him, to be honest. But I did watch his last fight…”

It was of course in this fight, McGrail’s last, that the Liverpudlian found himself not only beaten for the first time as a pro but knocked out in rather dramatic fashion in round five. Quite the shocker, nobody saw the finishing punch coming; least of all McGrail, 8-1 (5), the one unfortunate enough to feel it.

“He was caught when he was comfortable but was winning the fight easily,” said Leach. “He just had that little moment where he switched off and that was that. It was game over. But, for me, he was winning that fight comfortably.

“It’s rare to see a one-punch shot like that finish a fight in the lower weights, but it’s boxing; it can happen. One punch can change the whole course of a fight. He switched off for just a split second and paid the price.”

As much as Leach would love to do something similar to McGrail on April 27, he appreciates that no two fights are the same and that McGrail, stung once already, will be more intent on not losing his focus this time around. In which case Leach will instead look to use other things in his favour. Experience, for example, both in general terms and as far as going a hard 10 and 12 rounds. Work rate, too.

“I’m going to be throwing lots of shots and from different angles and keeping him on his toes,” said the 30-year-old from Salford. “In that fight (against Ja’Rico O’Quinn) he was fighting at his own pace, enjoying the fight, and for a split second he lost concentration.

“Experience could play a factor as well. He’s been training for the rematch, so he’s going to be fit and ready to do the 10 rounds. But I’ve been here before and know the feeling.

“I’m in this sport to be the best. I want to fight the best and he is someone a lot of people have been talking about. So, what better opportunity could I ask for? I want to get back in the mix and beating Peter McGrail will help me do that. Win this one and I’ll be back in the mix for all the belts again.”


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