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Carl McDonald refusing to obsess over Tyrone McCullagh – targets “real” European title

Irish super bantamweight champion Carl McDonald doesn’t understand why Tyrone McCullagh is so vehemently against a domestic dust-up but the ‘The Cobra’ is not going to fixate on a potential fight.

A clash between McDonald [5(0)-2(0)] and McCullagh, who picked up the BBBoC Celtic and WBO European belts last year, was suggested by the Dubliner’s team.

READ: Team McDonald open to Tyrone McCullagh fight

This idea was shot down at the time, pretty heavily, by Derry’s McCullagh [12(6)-0] and an online spat resumed last night between ‘White Chocolate’ and Boxing Ireland boss Leonard Gunning.

McDonald, speaking to Irish-Boxing.com before last night’s exchanges, is no longer one for major smacktalk but admits that a fight makes sense and it is one that he would like.

McCullagh, who scored dominant wins over Josh Kennedy and Joe Ham last year, points to his WBO #13 ranking and his desire to push towards a shot at Laois World Champion TJ Doheny in the next few months as reasons to not entertain the possibility of a meeting with the Tallaght puncher.

McDonald, however, points to recent negotiations between the two teams and the mooted pro boxing show in Derry where McCullagh is slated to headline.

The fighter, who also defeated the far larger Colin O’Donovan for the BUI Celtic featherweight title during the summer, revealed that he accepted a fight with McCullagh on the Haskins-Burnett undercard in Belfast only to pull out following a bereavement – as well as claiming an approach from the Foylesider’s team just a few short months ago.

McDonald told Irish-Boxing.com that “I signed to fight Tyrone last year, but then my nanny died so I couldn’t, I pulled out of the fight. I was really close to my nanny and two weeks beforehand I had just lost my uncle… and then it just never rematerialised.”

“I thought, maybe, with me winning the Irish title, him having the WBO European title, that it made sense but he’s talking about how he’s world-ranked now and he doesn’t want anything to do it.”

“I heard they’re trying to run a show in Derry and, after I won the BUI Celtic title, the guy who is trying to sort out the show [Seamus Cunning, McCullagh’s agent] texted me on Facebook asking me if I’d be interested in fighting Tyrone at the end of December for the vacant Irish title.”

“I showed Ste [Sharpe, McDonald’s manager] the text, I wasn’t sure who he was, and Ste said ‘yeah, sure get him to contact us’ – but we never heard anything back after that. Luckily enough, me and Dylan [McDonagh] were both eligible for it and we were able to fight for it in November.”

McDonald also revealed that, were they to meet, that it wouldn’t be the first time the pair have shared a ring, and that he would be confident of overturning an amateur loss to the European bronze medallist.

The 29-year-old recalled how “we actually fought, we were only kids though. I’d say I was about 16 and he beat me, he just has that real awkward style.”

“But now, in the pros, I’d be 100% confident that it would be a 50-50 fight. I wouldn’t be going in to fight anyone thinking I was going to lose, I go in looking to bleedin’ burst whoever I’m fighting.”

“Look, I’d fight anyone for a WBO European title, it would be silly to say no, you could never turn an opportunity like that down. Only a mad-man would say no”

The chatter surrounding the fight has gotten quite heated recently but it’s something which McDonald is trying to stay out of and he argues that “I was never going to get into any back-and-forward shite like that on Facebook, I’m not into that crap.”

“I’d rather say it to your face than write it over a keyboard, I just took no notice it.”

“At the minute I’m like, if he doesn’t want it, fuck him – if he does, happy days.”

“I love fighting on the Celtic Clash shows anyway, they’re the best shows around. If it’s not Tyrone, if it’s just a keep-busy fight on Celtic Clash 8, whatever it is, I’m happy, I don’t mind.”

McDonald has just enjoyed Christmas with his young family in Jobstown and is set to return to the gym soon for this March fighter, wherever it may be.

Following a breakthrough 2018, the former Intermediate champ is keen to see where he can get to in the sport and sees Italy’s new European champion Luca Rigoldi as a target as well as noting that a move down could also be an option.

McDonald, who weighed in two pounds under the limit for his Irish title fight, outlined how “if I can get to European level, that’s what I’d love, that’s the next plan.”

“I know what I can do, I just wasn’t doing it. Now I’m starting to do it, take things seriously, so why not?”

“I’d love to fight for the EBU European title, the real one. I’d love that title, I’d love a crack at that.”

“And if there was a big, big fight for me there at bantamweight where it was worth making the weight, I’d make it no problem. I felt good, I looked good, and I felt healthy [at 120lbs].”

“I got a couple of runs in over Christmas – Eddie [Hyland, trainer] is never off your back! – and now I’m back in the gym full-time from Monday, back to reality.”

Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)


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Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie