For­mer trainer put boxer on path to world ti­tle bid

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - MICHAEL THOMP­SON michael. thomp­son@ news. com. au

DEN­NIS Clancy will never for­get the day he told Mark Flana­gan it was time to make the world his oyster.

Ras­mussen- born boxer Flana­gan ( right) will fight for the WBA world cruis­er­weight ti­tle against cur­rent holder De­nis Lebe­dev in Rus­sia early Mon­day morn­ing Aus­tralian time, just a week af­ter fel­low Aus­tralian Jeff Horn star­tled the box­ing world by beat­ing le­gend Manny Pac­quiao.

But it took a self­less act from Clancy — Flana­gan’s for­mer Up­per Ross Hawks trainer — to get his protege down to Bris­bane and world stage.

Mak­ing his way back into box­ing in 2015 af­ter a year­long hia­tus, Flana­gan was pre­pared to stay un­der Clancy’s wing at the Up­per Ross Hawks and keep scor­ing knock­outs on closer to the the do­mes­tic cir­cuit.

“The hard­est part for me was when we had to split,” Clancy said.

“But I knew pen.

“I told him I knew of a guy in Bris­bane, An­gelo Di Carlo, who would look af­ter him from now on.

“Mark didn’t want to go, he thought I was re­ject­ing him, but I said to him ‘ you can be a good do­mes­tic fighter or you can be a fighter on the in­ter­na­tional cir­cuit’.

“Mark was in a space where he didn’t re­ally want to go, but I had to tell him I wasn’t re­ject­ing him, it was just that I couldn’t do any­thing more for him.”

Flana­gan linked with Di Carlo and started train­ing out of Bris­bane gym Box­ing Ex- it had to hap- press, where he be­gan to work with a big­ger range of spar­ring part­ners, which was vi­tal to Flana­gan’s abil­ity to train his way to the next level.

The big wins fol­lowed, start­ing with Flana­gan’s IBO Ocea­nia cruis­er­weight ti­tle win against James Lang­ton, fol­lowed by his all- im­por­tant WBA Ocea­nia vic­tory over South Amer­i­can Or­lando An­to­nio Farias in Novem­ber.

It was Flana­gan’s sec­on­dround knock­out of Farias that led to his world ti­tle op­por­tu­nity against Lebe­dev, who sounded Flana­gan out as a suit­able warm- up fight for what the Rus­sian hopes will lead to a re­match for the IBF ti­tle he lost to coun­try­man Mu­rat Gassiev in De­cem­ber.

Lebe­dev was once trained by Aus­tralia’s Rus­sian- born for­mer world champ Kostya Tszyu, and in a twist of fate Pac­quiao’s trainer Fred­die Roach will be in Lebe­dev’s cor­ner this week­end.

“Mark knows what he’s walk­ing into, it’s go­ing to be a re­ally hos­tile en­vi­ron­ment,” Clancy said.

“But I’ve never seen him so con­fi­dent be­fore.

“To think that this young kid from a hous­ing com­mis­sion area in Ras­mussen — who first walked into my gym as a 13- year- old — is now fight­ing for a world ti­tle, it’s un­be­liev­able.”

Flana­gan landed in the Siberian city of Yeka­ter­in­burg last Sun­day, where tem­per­a­tures have been a com­fort­able 21C dur­ing the day, and has been ac­com­pa­nied by a group of sup­port­ers in­clud­ing Di Carlo.

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