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‘Hold your head high’ – Shane Duffy won’t allow Tyrone McCullagh to wallow in defeat

Irish International footballer Shane Duffy won’t allow fellow Derry sportsman Tyrone McCullagh [14(6)-2(1)] to feel sorry for himself.

‘White Chocolate’ suffered what he labeled a deflating and embarrassing defeat to Brett Fidoe in Bolton late last month.

Even worse the English fighter stopped the boxing nurse to make it back-to-back loses for the Pete Taylor trained fighter.

Worse again the reverse came after a very difficult and turbulent year for McCullagh – at one stage now resolved brain scan issues lead him to believe retirement was on the horizon.

As a result defeat in a comeback fight, which was meant to be a celebrated return, seemed enough to secure one half of the ‘Two Tyrone’s’ a pity pass. However, no-nonsense Irish centre half Duffy wasn’t having it, particularly on the back of the troublesome year he had.

After bumping into each other in Derry the Premier League defender told his fellow county man to hold his head high.

“Fair play to him he came straight up to me, and he didn’t mince his words,” McCullagh told Irish-boxing.com.

“He told me he’d been through the worst year of his life both on and off the pitch but came out the other end. So why the f*ck can’t I? We are Derry men, hold the head up high.

“I really appreciated it. In fact, I really appreciate everyone who has reached out.”

McCullagh was open about finding himself in a really bad, even dark place, post his first career defeat, a reverse that came in a Golden Contract semi-final and against Ryan Walsh, a former British Champ.

The same result against a journeyman, albeit a game one whose record bellies his talent could have sparked a similar or even worse reaction.

“I know I can’t fall into that again, look it’s the sport I’m in, I have to take it on the chin (excuse the pun) I am devastated but life goes on,” McCullagh says.

“I’m down, deflated and embarrassed more than anything, the initial devastation has passed but it’s still a very bitter pill to swallow,” he continues.

The 30-year-old southpaw didn’t look to go the excuse route when reflecting on the fight. He did feel he was ok to continue but says he should never have given the referee a decision to make.

“I got caught, I was hurt like, although I thought it was waved it off early. My head was clear when the ref was counting. I was just thinking to myself “see the round out” but I wasn’t afforded the opportunity. At the end of the day he’s the ref, it’s his call and that’s no excuse. I should never have been in that position in the first place.”

Speaking to Irish-boxing.com last week trainer Pete Taylor said he didn’t want the frustrating to fight but brilliant to have around character to hang them up. McCullagh has since met with his trainer but hasn’t any decision with regard to his future.

“I was just speaking to Pete for the first time since the fight. I traveled to Dublin to see him, he told me [he didn’t want me to retire]. I owe Pete an apology – well I owe everyone an apology but Pete mostly – that result and performance is in no way a reflection of the work he puts in. I’m not going to make any rash decisions when I’m feeling like this but I do know it’s a long long way back after that.”

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 sports for a living for over 20 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: editoririshboxing@gmail.com