TYRONE McCullagh believes it won’t be long before he’s topping major boxing bills of his own after featuring on the Sky Sports televised world title card at the Odyssey Arena.
The 26 year-old southpaw stretched his professional record to 7-0 with a dominant 40-36 points victory over journeyman, Jose Aquilar last Saturday night on the undercard of Ryan Burnett’s successful IBF world title clash.
While McCullagh’s four rounder was on the off-television portion of the show, feauring on ‘the Belfast Boy’ card was the type of exposure McCullagh has been craving. And having thoroughly enjoyed the experience of being on a ‘massive’ Matchroom bill which was run like clockwork, he’s hungry for more.
“It was a brilliant set-up and everything is run to perfection. It would’ve been brilliant to be further down the bill,” said the Glen Road native.
“On fight day someone text me saying they were the ‘Chief of Transport’ and asked me how I was getting to the stadium - that’s how well it’s run.
“The atmosphere was unbelievable as usual. It might have seemed a bit quieter because the Odyssey is that big compared to the Europa Hotel or somewhere like that. The support was next to none as usual and I’d like to thank everyone who came down.
I want to push on and get this title ifght. I don’t know if it will be the next one but definitely before the end of the year.Tyrone McCullagh
“It was a massive card,” he added. “Matchroom and Eddie Hearn are the biggest promoters in Britain so it was a brilliant set-up and the way things were run was excellent.
“The only disappointing thing was that I was on so early on the card but apart from that the experience was unbelievable. It was a great opportunity I couldn’t turn down,” he explained.”
Irish boxing is booming at present and with the likes of Belfast Bantamweight, Burnett, James Tennyson and Paul Hyland, alongside Derry men, Connor Coyle and Sean McGlinchey all making waves, McCullagh is confident he can use it to his advantage.
Having watched Burnett take the IBF crown from Lee Haskins, McCullagh reckons he’s not too far off getting his own shot at titles.
And he’s ‘confident’ he can secure a Celtic title or Irish title shot before the end of the year, if not in his next outing.
“At the minute boxing is flying here in Ireland. And with the results on the night in Belfast it can only get better. Paul Hyland won, James Tennyson and Burnett. They are becoming bigger names, especially Burnett obviously but the likes of Tennyson and Hyland could go on and headline their own shows and that’s better for me obviously because I’m not too far behind them I don’t think.
“I haven’t got speaking to my management yet but I’ll get chatting to them next week and see what they say because I want to push on and get this title fight. I don’t know if it will be the next one but definitely before the end of the year.
“I’m ready for it and I’m confident it will happen before the end of the year. It’s up to my management now to see what they think and making sure it happens.”
On Saturday night, the durable Nicaraguan, Aquilar, became the third opponent to take McCullagh the distance in an entertaining four rounder.
With over 50 fights under his belt and with plenty of ring craft, it was always going to be a tricky one to end the fight early.
But overall McCullagh was pleased with his performance despite a ‘rookie mistake’ at the end of the third round when he allowed his opponent a few free shots when his gumshield flew from his mouth.
“The boy was a tough customer, he took a lot of punishment but he hung in there and seen the final bell.
I won every round handy enough. The first round it took me a bit to get going but I found my rhythm more in the second and third. I hit him with some lovely shots but he wasn’t for budging. I couldn’t get him out of there.
“It was probably good to get a few extra rounds under my belt anyway. At the end of the third my gum shield came out and I tried to get the ref’s attention. It was a rookie mistake by me. In boxing you have to protect yourself at all times and he caught me with a couple when I had my hands down looking to get the ref’s attention.
“I haven’t had the chance to watch the fight back yet but I think I boxed well and my coaches were happy with my performance. I still have a lot to learn but I was making him miss and at times I put my shots together really well.
Overall my performance was good.”