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Gutsy Marco McCullough stopped in British title challenge

Marco McCullough gave an immensely brave performance tonight, but fell short in his British featherweight title fight.

Fighting at the Copper Box on the undercard of the Gervonta Davis v Liam Walsh IBF featherweight title fight, McCullough fell to Walsh’s twin brother Ryan.

McCullough had success with the jab at stages, and showed huge guts to trade with the champion, but Walsh was just too strong and finished the fight in the penultimate round.

A cagey opener saw McCullough stay on the outside and attempt to use his reach advantage and box off the jab. A quiet round, Walsh got inside for a buzzing left hook upstairs at the midway point before McCullough landed a tidy right to the body in the closing seconds.

The second was similarly close, however Walsh upped the activity in the final minute, focusing on hooks to the body.

The McCullough jab continued to work well into the third, but the heavier shots were coming from Walsh – who would hurt the Ulsterman towards the close of the round.

The pair began to trade in the fourth, to McCullough’s detriment and the Shankill man was rocked badly by an uppercut in the final thirty. McCullough managed to see out the round and it was a case of damage limitation in the fifth.

Walsh remained on top as the bout approached its halfway mark but the McCullough jab was beginning to re-emerge and a sharp hook on the bell would give the judges something to consider.

McCullough would have a strong seventh, with the Ormeau boxer finding a rhythm before the champion came back strong, landing a succession of heavy shots in the final minute.

Walsh came on very strong in the eighth, turning southpaw and bullying McCullough to the ropes as the Belfast man tried to bob and hold.

McCullough admirably came back in the ninth round, again using the jab early and countering with the right as the smaller Walsh came in.

Walsh went for the finish in the final minute of the tenth, backing McCullough to the ropes only for the former Irish champion to show supreme guts to trade with the Norfolk fighter arguably landing the cleaner shots in the exchanges.

McCullough looked to come out fast in the eleventh, but a tape issue with his gloves gave reason for an extended pause. Walsh would get back on top and the fight would return to the ropes and the Englishman would not be denied this time. McCullough continued to bravely fight back with single shots before referee Howard Foster stepped in, right as┬áMcCullough’s corner approached to throw in the towel.

The loss sees McCullough drop to 17(10)-4(3), however his standing most definitely improves following the loss. Walsh improves to 22(11)-2(0)-1, takes McCullough’s WBO Inter-Continental title, and wins the Lonsdale belt outright.

frayne carpentry

Joe O’Neill and Gavan Casey speak to Jason Quigley on Episode 5 of The Irish Boxing Show:

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