Sun | Dec 8, 2019

Mike McCallum planning big for homeland

Published:Saturday | November 16, 2019 | 12:23 AMLeroy Brown/Gleaner Writer
Former world heavyweight champion Mike 'The Bodysnatcher' McCallum (right) spars with his protege Christopher Lovejoy recently while back in his homeland Jamaica.
Former world heavyweight champion Mike 'The Bodysnatcher' McCallum (right) spars with his protege Christopher Lovejoy recently while back in his homeland Jamaica.

Mike ‘The Bodysnatcher’ McCallum, the first Jamaican boxer to win a world boxing title, is in the island on what he told The Gleaner yesterday is “a short holiday and fact-finding mission.”

He is accompanied by Christopher Lovejoy, rated No. 10 by the World Boxing Association, one of the two world-rated boxers he is now training. The other is World Boxing Council lightweight champion Devin Haney, a 20-year-old boxing sensation. While here, he is having discussions with American boxing promoter Chris Joy, one of the principals of I-Fight Promotions.

McCallum, who arrived in Jamaica on Monday, said that he was thrilled to be back home, and is hoping to work with Joy to bring boxers from the USA to Jamaica, over the next several months, to engage in a series of fights. Joy said that he is now in talks with Lovejoy, because he wants him to be the headline fighter on a card he is planning to promote here in February next year.

McCallum said that he has been in discussions with Joy for several months, with a view to establishing a presence in Jamaica in the near future.

“Jamaica is home, and I would really like to come back to work with young boxers and produce another world champion or two,” McCallum said. “There is a lot of talent here in Jamaica, and I would love to be able to be the one to find some more of it, and unleash it to the world.”

McCallum, who will be 63 next month, said that because he has spent so much time overseas, he really enjoys coming back from time to time.

“When I return, I am reluctant to leave. There is no snow here, and year round there is great sunshine. I am enjoying myself and it will be difficult for me to leave,” he confided.

McCallum says that Lovejoy, 35, is a real heavyweight prospect, and is unbeaten in his 18 fights. He is now well poised to make a run for a title fight in 2021.

Joy says that he would like to be the promoter to bring another world heavyweight title fight to Jamaica. He said that he had heard so much about the 1973 Sunshine Showdown between Joe Frazier and George Foreman, which took place at Jamaica’s National Stadium, that it was something that he would like to emulate.

“I would like to fill the Stadium again, and who knows it just may happen,” he said.

Good prospect

He sees in Lovejoy a very good prospect, who can make it to the top, and he firmly believed that McCallum could make a difference in his career. McCallum said that he and Lovejoy have been working together for the past four months and they had developed a very good chemistry.

“I like his work ethic, and there is a strong possibility that he could make it to the top of the division within the next two years,” McCallum said.

Lovejoy, who weighs 165 pounds and is 6’5” tall, is a boxer who mixes speed with punching power. He believes that he has what it takes to win a world title, and the thought of doing so in Jamaica, he said, is very appealing to him.