Reigning WSB Team Champions Dolce & Gabbana Italia Thunder have worked hard over the summer to fill the void left by the departure of Middleweight king Sergiy Dervyanchenko to Astana Arlans Kazakhstan by recruiting powerful Frenchman Michel Tavares as well as London 2012 Olympic Games bronze medallist Vincenzo Mangiacapre. These two names are really huge and will add more explosive firepower to the Italian Franchise’s ranks, however there is a certain Irishman who has proved his credentials and who will now surely become the team’s main man at Middleweight.
The catalyst for their sumptuous 5:0 semi-final first leg victory over Baku Fires last season after he fought back from a two round deficit to win in style in one of the stand out bouts of last season is that man in question, William McLaughlin. Having sparred and been able to observe Derevyanchenko at close quarters, the 26-year-old orthodox fighter from Donegal, in North Western Ireland, is now ready to step out of the Ukrainian’s shadow and become the team’s top Middleweight. We put a few questions to him.
You had a fantastic campaign last season with the Italian team, contributing heavily towards the success of the Thunder, what is your next objective?
Well my goal would be for our team to be number one at the end of the season once again and to retain the WSB trophy. We want that second star on the team crest. Personally, I am very proud of my unbeaten record so I want to keep it intact and build on my momentum. We have a very tough group but we will be ready for them all.
What do you like about your team?
There is a great bond between the boxers, coaches and staff, which is fantastic in terms of preparing for fights. There is a winning mentality here and the set-up is the best I have ever seen.
Do you enjoy the glamorous side of being associated with Dolce & Gabbana?
Yes, it’s quite different to anything I do in Ireland, that is for sure, it is nice to be kitted out in their gear and it makes you feel that bit special when doing stuff for them. D&G are a massive company which looks after top models and top football teams, so for us as boxers it is very special.
So far you have been unstoppable, five fights, five wins, including two knock-outs, what is your secret?
I am not sure to be honest, I had a great season last year but you must never forget that you are only as good as your last fight. I am giving away a lot of weight as I box at 69kg but I suppose it is the will I have to win that has got me this far. The Thunder have a great program for all of us, tailor made for each individual and their weight programs have been a massive help. I also had top sparing with Derevyanchenko.
What is your mindset when you enter the ring?
To keep cool, take each round at a time, keep focused 100% of the time and to always give all I have. If I do, then the result should take care of itself.
What has been the toughest moment in your boxing career so far?
My toughest fight has to be at the AIBA World Boxing Championships Milan 2009 when I lost in the quarter-finals. I kept trying but just was not good enough on the day and just missed out on a medal. The other was not being selected for the World Championships in Baku last year, which was tough to take as I thought I had done enough to be selected.
Is boxing en extreme sport?
Of course it is extreme, very extreme. You just have to keep pushing yourself to the limits all the time and you can never be fit enough.
What is your training program like at present?
At the minute I am with the national team, we train 2 times a day running and weights in the morning and boxing sessions in the evening, 5 times a week. If I am not with national team, I am at home doing lots of running and having bag sessions without forgetting the all important sparring.
Do you follow a specific diet?
I try and follow a diet as best as I can but I have to balance it between been heavier for WSB and been lighter for AIBA events. So yes, I have to watch what I eat at different times and get that right food in at the right time.
Do you have a boxing hero?
Not really, but at present Sergiy Derevyanchenko, being with him last year and watching what he did. He is a credit to the sport and a wonderful guy. Kenneth Egan from Ireland is a wonderful man and a great boxer and trainer.