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BOXING / McGirt Starts His Training Career on Top

IT TOOK BUDDY McGirt six years to become a world champion.

It took him just six days to become the trainer of a champion.

In March, McGirt arrived in Las Vegas to work with a fighter on the Evander

Holyfield-John Ruiz undercard. He was approached by a manager who asked if he

could get his fighter ready for a title fight on Saturday.

"Which Saturday?" McGirt said. "The manager looked at me and says, 'This

Saturday.' "

McGirt accepted the offer but said there was little that could be done in

just six days. The fighter was super-middleweight Byron Mitchell, and McGirt

told him, " 'I'll assess you during the fight. Let's see what we have and we'll

take it from there.' "

The fight was against Manny Siacca for the vacant WBA title. It wasn't

going well for Mitchell and, as the 12th round began, McGirt was told he could

leave the corner to prepare his other fighter. Mitchell spotted McGirt walking

away and his disappointed stare drew McGirt back to the corner.

"I couldn't abandon him at that point," McGirt said. "When I got back to

the corner, he threw a hook to the body and a hook to the head and knocked the

guy out."

Instant champion. But McGirt knows it's usually not that easy. He's a

full-time trainer now and is committed to the challenge of preparing others to

step into the ring.

"A lot of fighters, when they become trainers, they expect the fighters to

fight like them," McGirt said. "But you have to see what the fighter has and

enhance that."

McGirt, who is from Brentwood, became Long Island's first world champion

when he beat Frankie Warren for the IBF junior welterweight title in 1988. He

also held the WBC welterweight title. He retired from the ring in 1997 after a

10-round loss to Darrin Maciunski and now lives in Vero Beach, Fla.

Among his current pupils are Mitchell, Antonio Tarver, Nate Jones and

Johnny Tapia. The most important aspect for McGirt is getting back to basics,

even with the veteran fighters he trains.

"Anybody can train but not many people can teach," McGirt said. "And that's

what boxing is missing now, teachers. There are not many old-school trainers

around."

Quick Jabs

Promoter Murad Muhammad teams with Tommy Gallagher to present the first

boxing card at Aqueduct Racetrack on Friday. The main event features former

world cruiserweight champion Imamu Mayfield (New Brunswick, N.J.) against Gary

Wilcox (Saratoga, N.Y.) for the vacant USBA title. The bouts will take place

after Aqueduct's daily nine-race card. The undercard has several local

fighters, including former Golden Gloves champs Darling Jiminez (Yonkers),

Gabriel Bracero (Brooklyn) and Conal MacPhee (Howard Beach). Another show is

scheduled for June 2 at Belmont Racetrack . . . Main Events, Lennox Lewis'

promoter in the United States, announced an Aug. 18 date for a rematch between

Lewis and Hasim Rahman, who shocked Lewis with a fifth-round KO. There was a

rematch clause in the contract for their April 21 bout, but according to

Rahman's promoter, Cedric Kushner, an agreement has yet to be reached. Rahman

has indicated he'd prefer to fight Mike Tyson next...Harlem's James Butler is

the mandatory challenger for IBF super-middleweight champion Sven Ottke of

Germany. Jack Stanton, Butler's manager, signed a three-fight deal that will

have Butler appear in Germany twice before meeting Ottke in the fall.

New York Sports