Junior welterweight Imam partnering with McGirt

Boxing

Junior welterweight contender Amir Imam, preparing for a fall return in the first fight of a promotional deal recently finalized with Top Rank, will be trained by Hall of Famer Buddy McGirt.

“Buddy’s got a good background. He’s been in the ring and he knows what it takes to be a world champion,” Imam told ESPN on Saturday. “I feel like it’s the right fit and we’ll see where it takes me.

“I’m looking forward to learning new things from Buddy. I know he’s got what it takes, so I’m confident.”

Imam had been trained for his entire seven-plus-year professional career by Roosevelt “Stacey” McKinley, who also served as his manager. But Imam sued McKinley and promoter Don King in April for breach of contract and for violations of the federal Muhammad Ali Reform Act in the 11th Circuit Court for Broward County, Florida.

Imam sought a release from his contracts as well as more than $500,000 plus punitive damages, but they eventually reached a settlement. That allowed him to sign with Top Rank and also put him in the market for a new trainer.

“This came to be where me and Amir talked about who would be a good fit for him with where he needs to evolve to,” Peter Kahn, Imam’s new manager and longtime friend of McGirt, told ESPN. “Buddy has a history of being able to help fighters realize their potential. We’ve seen him have success. I called Buddy and he met with Amir in Los Angeles this week and there’s a great chemistry. They’re looking forward to working together.”

McGirt, who has been training fighters and living in Los Angeles, plans to return to Florida, where he had lived for years, and will train Imam at Javiel Centeno’s Sweatbox Boxing Gym in Davie, Florida.

A native of Albany, New York, Imam (21-2, 18 KOs), 28, is fighting out of South Florida and is penciled in to have the first fight of his new promotional deal in November. It will be his first bout since March 17, 2018, when he lost a unanimous decision to Jose Ramirez for a vacant junior welterweight world title.

“That gives me and Buddy three months to work together and time for me to learn from him,” Imam said.

McGirt, who won world titles at junior welterweight and welterweight during his 1982 to 1997 fighting career and was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in June, has been one of boxing’s top trainers for years. His most notable current fighter is light heavyweight world titlist Sergey Kovalev, who is preparing for a defense against Anthony Yarde on Aug. 24.

After that bout, he will begin working with Imam.

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