McGrail hoping to put things right having been ‘devastated’ by O’Quinn

Liverpool prospect Peter McGrail was tipped for big things, was 8-0 and headed to a steady win over Ja’Rico O’Quinn, and then the snowball of momentum dissolved. 

Underdog and unheralded O’Quinn found one of the shots of 2023, a right hand with his back to the ropes in the fifth-round, to turn everything around in Glendale, Arizona, and McGrail’s route to the top was checked.

Southpaw McGrail, a 2020 Olympian, is now 8-1 but gets O’Quinn again in April, and this time in his hometown of Liverpool, and the rematch is the fight McGrail wanted.

“Yeah 100 per cent, as soon as I got out the ring in the first fight, straight away that was the only fight I wanted to go on to, obviously I wanted to right the wrong – I felt comfortable in the fight up until I got caught,” recalled McGrail. 

McGrail was on top and switched off, although he insisted he had not taken victory for granted, even if he seemed to be running away with the contest.

“No, I wouldn’t say I’d crossed the finish line, you know what I mean?” he explained. “I’m not that stupid, but it was like I switched-off for one second. I dropped my left hand for like a split second, it just came out of position – and just that split second [that] my left hand comes out of position, he just throws a mad, wailing loopy shot and just lands in a good spot, and that was obviously it, wasn’t it?” 

It was McGrail’s first taste of defeat as a professional, and it did not taste good. 

Yeah, it was hard to take,” the super-bantamweight prospect admitted two months on. “It was obviously my US debut [the bout took place in Arizona on the Bam Rodriguez-Sunny Edwards undercard] so I was looking forward to impressing the US fans, but it was one of them. It just gave me more motivation straight away to get the rematch fixed and sorted. I know obviously the result was the way the result was, but I feel like once I watched the fight back, I still probably gained a few US fans anyway, because I was boxing well. It was a good performance, bar that shot – I believe there’s always a silver lining to things and obviously if I could go back, I wouldn’t wish that it didn’t happen. That’s in the past now.”

Instead, McGrail is looking forwards and he has the chance to set things straight on April 27 at Liverpool’s Exhibition Centre, and he has the opportunity to learn from mistakes and, for that, the 27-year-old remains positive.

“Obviously I’ve got my chance to put things right,” McGrail added. “Headlining the bill in my own city, so it’s good at the moment. I’m excited now [and] looking forward to April 27. 

“Don’t switch off,” he said, when asked what would be the difference next time. “I was obviously quite close to him, wasn’t I? So if I’m in punching range just to keep the hands tight as much as possible. It gave me things to work on in the gym, which I have done, and I will continue to do so over the course of the camp. At that time, it was hard, and probably for the few weeks after that, I was fucking devastated. I sort of knew I’d be getting that rematch, I know it only got confirmed the other day, but I've been speaking to my team and we knew that we were 100 per cent going to get it, and I believed that their team were obviously going to accept it. So we’re here now and camp’s starting soon, the weeks are going to fly by now – they always do in camp – I’m so motivated for this fight, so it’s going to be a good one.” 

This time, too, McGrail will have his own fans behind him and O’Quinn will be entering hostile territory, facing McGrail in front of the Liverpool supporters. McGrail smiled when he thought of what lay ahead for the 17-1-1 (9KOs), 28-year-old American.

Yeah, I reckon so,” McGrail said, when asked if O’Quinn will get a frosty reception. “But I reckon he’s going to bring most of the hostility onto himself, because, as I said, he’s a bit of a loudmouth, ain’t he? But I’m half happy about that because it’s going to bring a bit more excitement to the fight. I’m just excited for fight week and then, once fight week comes, you’re excited for the weigh-in, and then excited for the fight. I’m just looking forward to putting in the work in camp over the next few weeks, and basically smashing his head in on April 27!”