STEPHEN McAfee walked away from the biggest card in Irish boxing history with his first win in the bag thanks to a third round knockout of Poland’s Marcin Ficner at the National Stadium last weekend.
The Sallynoggin native was making his professional debut at the Celtic Rise 2: The Following event as he looks to get his name out in search of a contract, and did his cause no harm by putting Ficner to the canvas in each of the three rounds.
The 26-year-old welterweight attacked his opponent from the beginning as he looked to impress and used his speed advantage to move forward, land some combinations, and duck back out.
His first knockdown came as the fighters stood toe to toe and threw punches. The Pole’s barely grazed McAfee’s shoulder, whereas the latter’s right-handed hook sent Ficner landed sweetly.
Ficner tried to respond in the second round but didn’t have the power or sharpness to trouble an increasingly confident McAfee, and hit the canvas for the second time just before the bell.
The bell couldn’t save him in the third round, however, as McAfee knocked him out in style.
He feigned a punch with his left to catch out Ficner before missing with a right and landing a sweet left-handed hook. The Pole attempted to get to his feet but the referee refused to allow him to carry on.
“I am delighted with the win because I wanted to get people talking about me and I did that,” McAfee told GazetteSport. “I knew as soon as I landed it he was going down. It was the first time I wore 8oz gloves and I could feel the difference. I felt I had the power to knock people out.”
Fighting with his hands low was a regular occurrence throughout the fight and McAfee admitted his coach wasn’t happy.
“It’s something I like to do. My coach was yelling at me to keep my hands up so he wasn’t too happy and I know I won’t be able to do that as the level of fighter goes up.”
McAfee was hoping the fight would make it to the fourth round so he could maximise the experience gained from the occasion but he was happy with the three in the end, and now hopes he can make it onto the card for the next Red Corner event.
“That was what I wanted because I want to show people what I can do but it was still nice to get it in the third round. I hope to get onto the next Red Corner event but if I don’t I‘ll just see what comes in. I’ll take anything to continue getting my name out there.”