HEAVYWEIGHT Kevin McBride says he will not walk away from boxing after his recent knock-out defeat and has called on fellow heavyweights Martin Rogan, Tyson Fury and Coleman Barrett to “step up to the plate” for a four-man Irish title showdown.

Kevin McBride Vs Mariusz WachMcBride must face medical examinations before he fights again - following the stunning knock-out he suffered at the hands of Poland’s Mariusz Wach in July in a challenge for the WBC International belt.

Speaking exclusively to the Sunday World, the Boston-based fighter who was in the other corner when Mike Tyson retired on his stool and from boxing in 2005, said he had turned down an opportunity to fight Tyson Fury - who fought at the King’s Hall in Belfast last night - but would welcome a shot at him, Rogan or Barrett.

McBride admits he is “baffled” that the Boxing Union of Ireland took away his status as Irish heavyweight champion and wants an opportunity to fight for it once again.

He added: “As far as I am concerned, I am the heavyweight champion of Ireland and no-one has told me otherwise. I was the champ and the next thing I hear is that Coleman Barrett has a belt also. That can’t be true because I didn’t defend it against him and the real belt hasn’t left my home.

“The Boxing Union of Ireland has not been in contact with me and I am disappointed about that. I am the Irish heavyweight champ and no matter who wants the belt, they will have to fight me for it.”

Beaten by Matt Skelton in the heavyweight version of Prizefighter, McBride (35-10-1, 29KOs) played down speculation that he was about to retire.

The 38-year-old added: “My critics have been saying I was retiring since 2006 and every year since beating Mike Tyson. They said recently that I was going to quit but that could not be further from the truth. I am not allowed to fight right now but only because of the knock-out against Wach.

“Mentally and physically I feel great but the medical people still want to see me before I fight again and I expect to go through more medical tests. That’s the nature of the sport but I do expect to be fighting again sooner rather than later.”Kevin McBride Vs Mike Tyson

The 6ft 6” Monaghan-born McBride added: “I was all set for the fight with Wach when I got a call about fighting Tyson Fury at some stage this year. But I had to take the fight; it’s my job and it was for a WBC International belt, which could have launched my career again. I hope another opportunity with Fury comes up this year.

“I have already beaten one Tyson and I know I can beat the other. I have never heard of the guy (Nicolai Firtha) that Fury was fighting in Belfast and I doubt that’s the fight people wanted to see. The Irish heavyweight scene is big right now and there’s a good chance one of us could get a big title shot.

“It would be great to see Martin Rogan, Coleman Barrett, Tyson Fury and myself in a box off to see which one of us is the best Irish heavyweight fighter. I would have no fear of that challenge.”

Reflecting on his victory over Mike Tyson six years ago, McBride, now a father of two; said it was the best night of his career but one that has made the remainder of it difficult too.
“I was a fan of Mike Tyson; he was my hero. To share the ring with him was something special. The same night of our fight I also got to meet Mohammad Ali, my all-time hero. I told him and Tyson that it was the greatest night of my life. On reflection, it was also a night that has made the rest of my career very tough. I was given a lot of promises after beating Tyson and none of them ever developed. I have seen too many doors and windows closed in my face and right now all I can do is peek through the keyhole.

“But I am not the griping sort; that’s boxing. The sport knocks you down inside and outside the ring. I am happy now and I know I can get fit and fight again. I do feel I have something more to give and hopefully another title shot will come my way.”

McBride has had just eight contests since defeating Iron Mike Tyson, and was inactive throughout 2008 and 2009.