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Page last updated at 18:25 GMT, Monday, 28 June 2010 19:25 UK

McEwan aims to emulate Ken Buchanan's American success

Craig McEwan connects with a punch during his bout with Hilario Lopez
Craig McEwan connects with a punch during his bout with Hilario Lopez

Jim Black
By Jim Black

Craig McEwan thought all his Christmases had come at once when he was given the news that he would be making his professional ring debut at the MGM Grand Casino, Las Vegas.

Better still was the fact that he would be appearing on the undercard of Marco Antonio Barrera's WBC super-featherweight title defence against Rocky Juarez.

But McEwan's delight turned to dread as he sat in his dressing room contemplating a showdown with self-styled 'Aztec Warrior' George Nicholas Montalvo.

The date remains etched in his memory, but McEwan remembers little about the events of 16 September 2006 other than he stopped his opponent in the first round.

"Having your first fight at the MGM Grand is special but my abiding memory is that I was scared stiff wondering what I had got myself into," the Edinburgh-born middleweight recalled.

"There was a surreal atmosphere but I just wanted to get out of there as quickly as I could. To be honest, I can't remember what punches I threw, but I must have done all right because it was all over very quickly."

McEwan has been back to fight in Vegas four times since, twice on the undercard of Shane Mosley, once on a Bernard Hopkins bill and for a supporting contest on the Floyd Mayweather-Ricky Hatton showdown.

But for all that he is rapidly making a name for himself in the States on the back of an unblemished 18-fight record, there is a fair chance that the 28-year-old McEwan could walk down the capital's world-famous Royal Mile and not attract a second glance.

I would encourage any young fighter to do the same because there is better quality training and sparring

Craig McEwan's advice on moving to America

He says he prefers it that way on the grounds that he has no wish to attract attention and risk being accused of being a "big-time Charlie" for deserting his homeland to seek fame and fortune on the other side of the Pond.

But McEwan, currently Scotland's most successful boxer, may soon become instantly recognisable, for there is the very real prospect of him having a world title fight within the next six to nine months.

A promotional deal with Golden Boy Promotions, fronted by ring legend Oscar de la Hoya, has propelled McEwan to the forefront of the American fight scene and gained him widespread exposure.

He had hoped to make his British debut on a Hatton Promotions bill at Bolton on 16 July, against defeated Martin Murray for his vacant Commonwealth crown, but the proposed deal fell through.

However, Hibs fan McEwan, who harbours an ambition to one day headline a show at Easter Road, remains hopeful of having a fight of some description in Britain next month after returning home with his wife, Sarah, for the birth of the couple's second child, Cameron, on 10 June.

Having also secured a sponsorship deal with Edinburgh firm Kelvin Lighting, McEwan is likely to feature in the capital at some stage in the foreseeable future.

But he is keen to continue his American adventure after turning up on the doorstep of legendary Los Angeles trainer Freddie Roach, who also looks after Amir Khan and Manny Pacquiao, in 2005.

McEwan was being funded by the Lottery at the time but spent a month in the States sparring with several of Roach's top contenders before returning home to prepare for the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne the following year where he reached the quarter-finals.

He said: "Over there it's a case of kill or be killed and Freddie thought I could handle myself. But I was committed to fighting at the Commonwealth Games so I delayed my return for a year until I turned pro after Melbourne.

"My then girlfriend, now wife, finished university around the same time so we decided to pack our bags and head back to the States.

Craig McEwan in action against Khotso Motau of South Africa in the Commonwealth Games in 2002
McEwan in action against Khotso Motau in the 2002 Commonwealth Games

"I would encourage any young fighter to do the same because there is better quality training and sparring.

"Freddie is my trainer and co-manager and there is talk of me trying to establish myself in the east of the country because I haven't fought in New York yet.

"Ideally, I would like to win a title and make a defence in Scotland. I know that I still have a lot to learn but De la Hoya says that once I get to 20 wins I will be knocking on somebody's door for a title shot towards the end of this year or the start of next."

McEwan, who was encouraged by his father Rab - a noted amateur boxer who also represented Scotland - is a slick upright switch-hitter southpaw who has surrounded himself with wise counsel.

He added: "I have had a lot of advice from Freddie, who has trained a whole host of champions, so I know I am in good hands."

McEwan has also acquired a sunshine lifestyle with a plush apartment just a stone's throw from Hollywood Boulevard.

But that may only be the tip of the iceberg if McEwan realises his American dream to walk in the footsteps and match the achievements of the man generally regarded as the finest Scottish boxer of all time, Ken Buchanan, who conquered America four decades ago.

see also
Burns awaits title destiny
03 Jun 10 |  Boxing
Lack of bouts frustrates Simpson
30 Apr 10 |  Boxing
Scottish boxing is fighting fit
25 Jan 10 |  Scotland
Boxing basics
13 Dec 05 |  Get Involved
Amateur boxing explained
01 Mar 06 |  Boxing

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