Boxing great Angelo Dundee had the perfect seat last Thursday.
Sitting ringside in a red, white and blue polo and blue jean shorts, Dundee sat just off the apron of the boxing ring inside Tampa’s Fight Factory.
Dundee, who has trained numerous champions, including Muhammad Ali, watched as Australian boxer Erin McGowan worked inside the ring with local trainer Sherman Henson. Her goal – get better for tonight’s title fight against Monica Acosta in Argentina.
Dundee just wanted to give some pointers here and there.
Turning to his right, Dundee shouted at boxing manager Eddie Montalvo: "You ain’t gonna have to work too hard with her. She’s going to knock out a lot of people."
That’s just what McGowan (14-0, 7 KOs), the WBO lightweight belt holder, is hoping for when she steps up in weight to face Acosta (14-0-2, 2 KOs) for her WBA light welterweight belt.
"This is a huge opportunity for me," McGowan said. "Being out here in the states, the competition and the girls here, it’s a huge (challenge) for me. I really want to secure another world title. It’s a long journey, leaving my boy at home and flying all the way over to take this fight. Hopefully it’s going to open up some big doors in the states for me, which is where I want to be. I want to be fighting the best girls in the world."
McGowan put the finishing touches on her training camp for this fight, traveling to Tampa for a week to work with Henson and Montalvo. Her trainer, Habby Heske, flew in from Australia later in the week. The group traveled to Ft. Lauderdale for one last sparring session before flying to Argentina.
This day was special because it was the first time she would get to work with Dundee, who lives in the Tampa Bay area.
McGowan, a native of Perth, Australia, spent five years as an amateur compiling a 30-4 record. A win against Acosta and she’ll become the first Australian female fighter to have collected multiple major titles.
If Dundee’s excitement throughout the session is any indication, McGowan will be a name to remember for some time.
"She does a lot of good things, which are natural," Dundee said. "There’s nothing better than being a natural fighter like she is. She wants to learn, which is good. You can always teach if they want to learn. All I’m going to do is smooth her out a little bit."
At one point, as McGowan began lacing her shoes, Dundee took over, showing her a different way to tie them.
"It’s the little things," Dundee quipped.
Henson was impressed with McGowan’s work ethic. The day after enduing a 30-plus hour flight, she met Henson and Montalvo at the gym ready to work. According to McGowan, she felt horrible on the inside. That definitely didn’t show on the outside.
"I see the potential of a future, longtime world champion," Henson said. "She has the potential and she has the talent to be a champion for a long time and the thing that gets me is her drive."
Montalvo hopes this is the start of a long relation between McGowan and Tampa. If all goes well, she could return to train for future fights. And just like everyone else, he too believes McGowan’s future is bright.
"I was looking at some fight tape and immediately I knew she was one of the special ones," Montalvo said. "I knew if I could get her to the United States and train and get more intensive training that she will be unstoppable."