Monday, March 20, 2023  |


The Boxing Esq. Podcast, Ep. 21: Buddy McGirt


The Ring is proud to present “The Boxing Esq. Podcast with Kurt Emhoff”. Kurt is a top boxing manager and attorney based in New York City. He has represented over 10 world titleholders during his 20-plus years in the sport.

Listen to Episode 20, with hall-of-fame promoter Russell Peltz, here.

Emhoff’s guest on this podcast is 2019 international Boxing Hall of Fame inductee and top trainer James “Buddy” McGirt, who discussed helping Sergey Kovalev regain his WBO light heavyweight title from Eleider Alvarez, his fighting career — that included bouts with Frankie Warren, Saoul Mamby, Howard Davis, Meldrick Taylor, Simon Brown and Pernell Whitaker — and his notorious management team of Al Certo and Stuart Weiner. McGirt also discusses his adjustment to retiring from the ring to become a trainer of notable champions such as Arturo Gatti, Antonio Tarver and Vernon Forrest.

Below are a few excerpts from the interview:

Training Kovalev to win the rematch with Alvarez:
“I never saw the first fight. I don’t believe in watching tape. I believe that you prepare for any and everything. But I just kept it basic in training and then I seen what kind of jab Kovalev has. I said, ‘With a jab like that and you don’t need nothing else.’ And you know the great Ray Arcel told me one day in 1989, ‘Buddy, I had about four world champions and all they had was the left jab. I educated their left hand.’ I’m like, this guy has a great left hand. And then one day Sergey sent me a video of one of his amateur fights. He was losing after the first round, but then he started using his jab coming back and landing his straight right hand. And I’m like, that’s all you gotta do. Keep it basic but perfect it. And that’s all I did. In training, I would make him, for some rounds, only throw left jabs, nothing else. And on the heavy bag rounds, nothing else, just jabs. Everything else is going to follow. He knows how to fight.”

Growing up in Brentwood, Long Island:

Young Buddy.

“To me, it was the greatest place in the world. Growing up there, in my neighborhood, and seeing the

stuff that I seen and experiencing stuff, it’s helped me be prepared for when I traveled out of the country. I’m like, I’ve seen all of this as a youngster. So it helped me adapt no matter where I went. We had a little bit of everybody [different races] but everybody was cool with each other. You had the dope fiends, you had the alcoholics and you had all that. But they were the coolest guys in the world. They would come to my amateur fights drunk as hell. But they always showed support, yelling and screaming. You know what I mean. But I loved it because no matter what I did in the neighborhood, if I was hanging out somewhere that I had no business [where shady things were happening] they would tell me I had to leave, I couldn’t be there.”

How he won his first world title in a rematch with Frankie Warren:

McGirt sizes up tiny but mighty Texas tornado Frankie Warren.

“He’s shorter than me [Warren is 5-foot-2, Buddy is 5-foot-6]. If he gets up under me, I’m a dead duck. So if I stay low with him at his height, I’ve got the reach. Every time he got close to me I hit him with body shots. Short guys are not used to getting hit to the body. I hit him to the body and I heard him grunt and I said to myself, ‘Oh no bruh – your ass is mine.’ I love throwing body shots. When he’d come in, I’d get up under his jab and throw a right uppercut to the body. Right under his jab, every time. I wasn’t trying to hit him on the chin, because I knew he had a rock chin. I hit him right to the body with it thinking he can’t take this for 15 rounds. [Buddy stopped him in the 12th].”

Fighting Pernell Whitaker with a bum left shoulder and losing his Welterweight title:
“Oh man – forget about it. I can’t even watch a tape of the fight. Because when I came inside and I’d hit him with a right uppercut – I couldn’t throw the left hook to save my life. It wasn’t there. It was frustrating, I’m like I could get this mother****er man. I tried to throw my hook against Leon [Genaro Leon – the fight before Whitaker], and it was like in slow motion. I knew I couldn’t do that with Pernell, he was too smart.”

Adjusting to retirement from the ring:

McGirt will join his late pupil Arturo Gatti in the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

“I had bills that were mounting up. I had internal revenue up my ass and no money coming in. I had a few bucks saved but I said ‘How long is this going to last?’ I had house and car payment, child support. I

had a lot of s*** on my plate. And it’s like OK Buddy – what the f*** are you going to do? If I made any money the IRS would be up my ass. It was tough. I gotta say it was one of the toughest times of my life to be honest with you. But I got smart in the sense that I cut a lot of my expenses.”

Training Arturo Gatti:
“It was great. We had a lot of fun. But after the Mayweather fight, he was never the same.”