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The Boston Globe

Opinion

carlo rotella

In the ring with tough guys from Lowell

The retired boxer Micky Ward was backstage at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium on Wednesday night, bucket in one hand and water bottle in the other, watching his fighter warm up before taking the long walk out to the ring. The fighter, a 168-pounder out of Lowell billed as “Irish” Joe McCreedy, just as Micky was billed as “Irish” Micky Ward, would be fighting in the evening’s headline bout. Dicky Eklund, Micky’s half-brother, had pads on his hands to catch McCreedy’s punches. Dicky, who was a slick welterweight once upon a time, would sketch a couple of half-speed blows for McCreedy to slip, then McCreedy would bang the pads with ripostes, barking along with his punches: “Huh! Huh! Hah!”

Sean Eklund, Dicky’s nephew, had just come back from the ring after winning his own bout, his first eight-rounder. Micky, who had worked his corner with Dicky, told a reporter, “He’s a work in progress. It’s all a learning experience. He showed he can bang a little, and he coasted and boxed at the end. It was the perfect kind of fight to grow on, and he had a perfect opponent” — James Ventry, a hardy fellow with a losing record who specializes in giving a homestanding fighter a stiff workout.

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