‘I didn’t know if I wanted to box again’: Barry McGuigan opens up on tragic fight with Young Ali who died after six months in a coma in 1982… as he recalls emotional tribute to Nigerian after winning world title against Eusebio Pedroza
- Barry McGuigan has spoken about his tragic fight with Young Ali in 1982
- He won by knockout but Ali spent six months in a coma and tragically died
- McGuigan admitted the trauma nearly made him hang up his gloves
- He said it was important he dedicated his win over Eusebio Pedroza to Ali
- McGuigan was speaking about his career on The Gary Newbon Sport Show
Barry McGuigan has reflected on his tragic 1982 fight with Young Ali, who died after six months in a coma – admitting he considered hanging up his gloves.
McGuigan won by knockout in the sixth round at the World Sporting Club but sadly the Nigerian didn’t regain consciousness, and the former featherweight said the trauma had a devastating effect on him.
He eventually decided to carry on with his career, and going into his massive world title bout with Eusebio Pedroza in 1985, he made it his mission to win the fight and dedicate it to Ali after the final bell.
Barry McGuigan has admitted he almost walked away from boxing after a tragic fight in 1982
McGuigan beat Young Ali via a sixth round stoppage but his opponent never recovered
McGuigan told the Gary Newbon Sports Show: ‘I was thinking about him all week and [I thought] if I win and I get over this hurdle then the first thing I’ve got to do is reflect back to that horrible night in 1982 where I had the tragic fight with the kid.
‘After that I didn’t know if I wanted to box or not. If I can do this sort of damage to someone… it happens, but it’s such a tragedy and it’s the one thing we as boxing fans don’t want to ever happen again.
‘But it happened before and it will happen again. I happened to be in a very unfortunate position but I wanted to dedicate the fight to him.’
McGuigan went on to beat Pedroza by unanimous decision at Loftus Road and he recalled how emotional he became as he called out Ali’s name, insisting he wanted to remember him at the most important time of his career.
Ali spent the next five months in a coma but sadly passed away at the age of just 21
An emotional McGuigan dedicated his world title win over Eusebio Pedroza to Ali’s memory
‘I was crying by the time I got round to mentioning his name because I was thinking about it and (presenter) Harry Carpenter was able to articulate what I was saying to the 19million people watching on the BBC,’ he added.
‘It was a very sad time for me and at the pinnacle of my career I wanted to remember him. It was really important time for me and that was a really important moment.’
In arguably the biggest night of his career, McGuigan won his first world title by beating Pedroza, who had reigned as champion for several years, and revealed his game plan was to to use his intelligence as he endured a tough few rounds before downing him in the seventh.
McGuigan said it was important that he paid tribute to Ali on the biggest night of his career
He said his game plan to beat Pedroza was to use his intelligence after a tough first few rounds
‘For the first three or four rounds he boxed the ears off me – I knew that was going to be the case. I knew I was going to beat him with pressure and pace and intelligence.
‘I knew for the first few rounds it was going to be very difficult to get close to him. I nailed him with a left hook to the body at the end of the fifth round, it landed really well and at the end of the round he stood up and jumped up and down onto his feet.
‘I knew that was a sign and I heard my brother shout, “You’ve hurt him! You’ve hurt him!” That was the most significant moment in the fight.’
The Gary Newbon Sports Show, with @Punching.TV, and in association with MailOnline Sport, will be streamed live every Thursday #GNSS
You can watch the full interview here on Thursday.