THE SWEET SCIENCE HONORS SHANE McGUIGAN — Boxing history is filled with tales of celebrity sons attempting to follow in the footsteps of their famous fighting fathers. It might have started out that way for Shane McGuigan, one of former WBA featherweight champion Barry “The Clones Cyclone” McGuigan’s four sons, except that the story got a surprising rewrite in 2010, when Shane decided he would take a different path to recognition in the sport that made his dad not only a local legend in Belfast, Northern Ireland, but a fighter accomplished enough to be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2005.
Although he was trained by Barry for eight years, and was successful enough in the amateur ranks to win three national titles, the constant strain of being compared to his dad so wore on Shane that he decided he was better suited to work that old family magic in the corner rather than in the ring. He was just 25 years of age when, as the chief second for Carl “The Jackal” Frampton, his fighter wrested the WBA featherweight title from Kiko Martinez on a one-sided unanimous decision on Sept. 6, 2014, in Belfast. Shane McGuigan was two years younger than Frampton.
Fast-forward two years and Shane has more fully secured his own place in the spotlight, out of his father’s lengthy shadow. He is The Sweet Science’s Trainer of the Year for 2016, primarily but not exclusively for his work with Frampton (23-0, 14 KOs), whose two bouts in the year just past saw him add Scott Quigg’s WBA super bantamweight belt on a spirited split decision Feb. 27 in Manchester, England, and then move up to featherweight and, as an underdog, dethrone WBA titlist Leo Santa Cruz on a majority decision July 30 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Frampton’s victories over two elite, world champion fighters, who had a combined record of 63-0-3 with 42 KOs at the time they faced him, might have been enough to earn boxing’s “boy wonder” Trainer of the Year honors over such worthy, long-established contenders as Abel Sanchez and Manny Robles Jr. But, cognizant of what McGuigan had done for Frampton, other high-visibility fighters – former WBA heavyweight and WBC/WBA/WBO cruiserweight champ David Haye, world-rated super middleweight George Groves and super lightweight prospect Josh Taylor – have entrusted their careers to him. Barry’s son is now such a hot commodity that fighters are lining up to learn under him at the McGuigan’s Gym in the Battersea section of London.
“I think youth gives me an advantage,” Shane said of the new ideas he is bringing to old traditions of how to prepare a fighter to reach his maximum potential. “With youth you’re much more prepared to do your homework. You haven’t won world titles (although Shane has). Older, successful trainers might be going through the motions a little. Give me a guy who’s a good boxer and I think I can bring out the best in him.”
Interestingly, Shane said the fighter he would most like to train, were time travel possible, is his father, whose loss of his WBA featherweight title to Stevie Cruz came on June 23, 1986, exactly one week shy of 30 years prior to Frampton’s watershed victory over Santa Cruz.
“Dad lost title to a guy called Cruz 30 years to the same month that Frampton won the same belt against a guy named Santa Cruz,” Shane noted. “It’s quite amazing how the world works.”
2016 Round of the Year / Check out more on the 2016 trainer of the Year at The Boxing Channel.