FORMER world kickboxing champion Jan Cree says protege Gary McLeary is ready to join the world’s elite - and won’t need pickled cabbage to do it!
McLeary, from Motherwell, faces Jon Edge in Cleland Club on Saturday with the Golden Belt super heavyweight world title on the line.
When he was competing Cree would eat nothing but pickled cabbage in the lead up to his fights in order to make the 10st weight limit, but says he hasn’t forced that drastic diet on McLeary.
Cree said: “There are no problems with Gary’s weight as he has slimmed down from 122kg to 110kg to take on Edge and I’ve never seen him in better shape.
“His last fight wasn’t brilliant, but that might be just what he needed to get his head in the game because there is no doubt this will be his toughest challenge yet. A win would see him enter the world’s elite.
“He hasn’t fought for four months and even gave up his job to prepare for this opportunity, and I have every confidence that he can take the belt.
“Edge is a dangerous fighter, but he only recently came out of retirement to defend the belt so with the shape Gary is in I believe he can win then go on to bigger and better things against the really big names.”
Also on the card is McLeary’s Impact Kickboxing stablemate Jamie McGinnis, who is aiming to grab the Golden Belt European lightweight title in what could be his last fight as an amateur.
However, trainer Cree hopes McGinnis slows down the pace in order to maximise his potential.
He said: “Jamie just loves to fight, but after this one I would like to see him take some time off and maybe leave turning professional for a bit.
“In his last fight against Garcia, even though he was well ahead on points, he was trading blows to the end and there was a chance something could have happened.
“He has a lot of potential, but as he moves up the ranks he will need to learn better tactics.
“I’d prefer for him to stay amateur for a bit longer and take on a few eastern Europeans to learn their ways before we look at a British pro title later next year.
“That said I have every confidence he will beat Dave Gillan and both boys will be carrying more gold by the end of the night.”
Meanwhile, Motherwell boxer Iain Butcher was in action on Saturday night in Wishaw as he increased his pro record to 5-0 with a convincing 80-70 victory over Stefan Slavchev.
Butcher put the Bulgarian down three times, once in the fourth and twice in the sixth, but Slavchev did get a reprieve in rounds six and seven when two knockdowns were ruled as slips by referee Victor Loughlin.
Butcher boxed well on his way to victory and kept cool despite Slavchev’s frustrating desire to keep as much distance as possible between them, rather than trade.