Away from the spotlight, the drowning din of the Beachcomber Club crowd, Buxton prizefighter Irvin Magno was stitched up for a gash below his right eye by the doctor on duty. In the spotless, brightly-lit hospital room of immaculate white walls there seems to be no space for a shadow to grow out of, except in the recesses of the challenger’s mind.
“I feel lost but…” Magno, whose professional boxing record drops to 4-3-1 said.
He sat up, saw past his attending physician, the nurses about, and hospital staffs with weary, emotional eyes wondering how, and the moral of it all, after all the weeks of grinding preparations and utter hard work he’d put in, could such an opportunity slip out of his hands still. He trains so no stone is ever left unturned, and yet here was another one, nestled in the shade of doubt.
Irvin Magno fought twice in a span of two weeks; the latest just before his body could completely heal itself from the rigors of a tough match up. He slowly establishes himself as an all-out fighter and the crowd loves him for laying it all down on the line each time he mixes it up with an opponent. It’s a style that will make him, yet could likely break him in the long run, I said, suggesting a more cerebral approach.
His previous opponent, Ibrar “Smokin” Riyaz, out of Reading, Berkshire, put him to a highly physical slugfest and paid for it. The rugged thirty-two year old fighter walked directly toward Magno at the sound of the bell, and soon the latter rang bells in his head with punches in bunches; being the implacable aggressor he is reputed for. They both slugged it out to the finish, fighting tooth and nail, to the crowd’s delight, with Irvin Magno winning it.
What a way for a young man to build up his popularity in the prizefighting scene, to fight with his all, such energy emanating from a seemingly bottomless pit of emotion. But at what cost, and for how long it can be sustained is a different matter.
Victory over “Smokin” set him up for the bigger challenge – to vie for the British Classic Challenge belt versus Kevin Hooper in Lincolnshire, U. K. It was Magno’s first eight-round bout, and he had to travel to the reigning champ’s backyard a huge underdog. Against the tested thirty-three year old with a record of 19-5, Magno went ablazing from the start before a frenetic crowd. Local spectators did not know who he was then, except that he was a late replacement with two loses in six fights. Irvin Magno went out to prove that numbers do belie, that the losses and a draw in his record do not make up for even half of the fighter he is. And prove it he did.
He fought the taller, bigger, heavier boxer from the bottom up. He attacked the body whenever the opportunity arose, and the whacking sounds his heavy hands made muddled with the shouting and the heckles of the electrified crowd, and soon all of it became a long wail with no high and low pitch- only highs, letting up only in between rounds.
Kevin Hooper, the champion and local favorite, outlasted the eight-round onslaught by Irvin Magno. Without a doubt he must be glad it did not last a single minute more, or the tide would have steered clearly toward Magno’s favor henceforth. Magno believes that he has done enough to clinch it. He was the aggressor that night with a high punch output to back it up, yet in the same token it made his defense more vulnerable. In that sense it could have gone either way. However, the judges must have thought that to beat the champion one must do it convincingly, which must be the only line of reasoning enough to give justice to the razor thin scoring difference of 77-76 for Hooper.
Irvin Magno sat at the hospital analyzing his mistakes. All that power and energy he’d accumulated during training had been wasted on a less tactical approach and an incessant offensive. He now claims to know the things that he needs to work on. He talked about his rhythm, proper pacing, and boxing more, brawling less. Each time he spoke about these changes and the notion of adding new things to his training his eyes lit up. He did not look beaten anymore, only too eager. When he went out of the hospital and into the night, being lost was the last thing he ever was.