Tyrone McCullagh eyes World Title trail as he takes on third consecutive national champion


Tyrone McCullagh [12(6)-0] hopes to move into the WBO top 10 with victory in the first defence of his WBO European super bantamweight ranking title in Newcastle next month.

The Derry City fighter has 2019 world title shot ambitions and believes victory against Spaniard Alvaro Rodriguez at the Eagles Community Centre on Friday May 3rd will keep him on course to achieve that goal.

Some may suggest a world tilt may seem some way off for the BBBoC Celtic titlist but ‘White Chocolate’ flew up the rankings in 2018 with impressive wins over Scottish and English champions Joe Ham and Josh Kennedy respectively and is confident he can continue to climb the ladder at an impressive pace with another win over another national titleholder.

While the WBO and the belt about to be defended by Emanuel Navarrete versus Isaac Dogboe looks the likeliest route, McCullagh admits he would fight any of the champions – with Mexican Rey Vargas holding the WBC and upcoming unification combatants TJ Doheny of Port Laoise and Danny Roman of California possessing the IBF and WBA respectively

“I would jump at the chance to fight any of the world champions. I would love to get a shot at a world title by the end of 2019, so hopefully I can keep on winning,” McCullagh told IFL TV.

“The WBO makes the most sense at the minute, I’m 13th-ranked with them. Fingers crossed, if I defend this belt successfully in three weeks time, I don’t know if that will put me in the top 10. I’d like to think it would.”

“At the minute it makes the most sense and it’s the right path to go down. First I’ve got this fight with Rodriguez in Newcastle.”

A defence of his rankings belt in just under three weeks’ time should bump the Irishman up another few spots and if he could take on another of the organisation’s top 15 afterwards then things could get really interesting.

Navarette defends the belt in a rematch against Dogboe, who he shockingly beat last December, on May 11th – while McCullagh’s former amateur rival Mick Conlan has hinted at a move down in weight and would be installed high up the rankings.

The Foyleside southpaw isn’t getting too far ahead of himself though.

Spanish champion Rodriguez’s record doesn’t suggest he should overly trouble the tricky McCullagh.

Indeed, some may suggest the match-up is a slight step back from the likes of Ham and Kennedy but the 28-year-old boxing nurse isn’t expecting an easy night.

He was impressed with how Thomas Ward dominated the Madrid native but won’t necessarily use that as a template to secure victory on the top of a Newcastle hosted show.

“I watched him fight Thomas Ward and Thomas Ward dealt with him easily enough,” said McCullagh who has seen his last two fights, keep-busy affairs, fall through.

“Don’t get me wrong, Thomas Ward is a class act, I could could that as a benchmarker. But I’m just going to stick to my own gameplan and what Danny [Vaughan] tells me and I know that if I box the way I can, to the best of my abilities, I’ll be alright on the night.”

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Jonny Stapleton

Irish-boxing.com contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sport for a living for 19 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email: [email protected]