For a man who is about to fight professionally in his home city for the first time, Craig McEwan is a very laid-back boxer.
That’s not surprising, however, when you consider that this will be his 22nd professional contest – 19 wins, ten stoppages, only two losses, all across the Pond – and he has fought some serious American contenders and sparred with the likes of former world champions Bernard Hopkins, Ronald Winky Wright and Antonio Margarito.
“I have been learning and gaining experience,” said McEwan. “I had my first fight in Las Vegas, where I shared a dressing-room with Marco Antonio Barrera, and I’ve been learning ever since.
“I started here at Meadowbank so it’s good to be back.”
The middleweight has been based in Los Angeles since he turned professional back in 2006 after a glittering amateur career that included winning a Commonwealth Games bronze medal in 2002. Signed to Oscar de la Hoya’s Golden Boy organisation and trained by the legendary Freddie Roach, McEwan enjoys the Hollywood lifestyle including the swimming pool in his backyard.
He has been back in Edinburgh for some weeks with his wife Sally and their two toddler sons, Calum and Cameron, and yes, he is missing the Californian weather. He will fly back there a week tomorrow, no matter what happens.
On Saturday night, McEwan will be the main attraction on Alex Arthur’s AAA Promotions’ second bill in Meadowbank Sports Centre’s main hall.
The first AAA event in that hall attracted 1400 paying spectators, and the chance to see McEwan, Arthur, Kenny Anderson and other local boxers may see that previous attendance figure eclipsed.
It says a lot that the event has been billed as the ‘Homecoming’ and on the poster, McEwan is given more prominence than the promoter and local hero Anderson who will face Wayne Reed in a super-middleweight contest. McEwan celebrates his 30th birthday today but many people still remember McEwan as a brilliant amateur in his teens and early 20s – “I think he might have had more fights than even me,” said promoter Arthur.
McEwan has been training hard in his father Rab’s gym at Clovenstone, knowing that he has to make a comeback and stake a new claim for a British title after successive technical knockout losses to Andy Lee and Peter ‘Kid Chocolate’ Qullin.
Against Lee, McEwan was ahead on the judges’ scorecards but lost it early in the tenth and final round when he was dispatched to the canvas for a second time.
Quillin, the former US super-middleweight champion who is hotly topped as a future world champion, stopped McEwan in six, though the Scot did not go down before the referee jumped in and stopped the fight – to the amazement of McEwan and his team.
Tomorrow night he faces Paul Morby, the former Southern Area super-middleweight champion. Beating him will put McEwan on target for a British title fight, which he desperately covets.
The other Edinburgh boxers on the bill are led by Arthur, who takes on Michael Frontin of Mauritius at light-welterweight.
The 33-year-old former world champion is running out of time if he wants to get back to the limelight.
“I promised the family I would not box beyond my 35th birthday which is in June next year but I can’t leave at the moment when I am so fit,” said Arthur “My future is in promotions however, and it’s great that we have a fighter of the calibre of Craig McEwan in only our second bill.”
British Masters welterweight champion Gary McMillan fights Lancashire-based William Warburton, while Gilmerton lightweight Jason Hastie is waiting to learn the identity of his opponent.
The likeable Hastie loved being on the first AAA bill: “Last time as a fighter it was enjoyable as it was quite relaxed and it was great to be a part of it.
“You could concentrate on your fight and there were not many issues outside that. Everything ran very smoothly and the fans were electric – and there will be more of them this time. I’ve been speaking to Alex about where I will go from here, but ideally it would be a British masters title fight or something like that – but first I have to win this fight.”
It should be a great atmosphere at Meadowbank tomorrow night, when Edinburgh’s fighters will be led by McEwan as he tries to make his homecoming memorable.