‘I had to try and lift myself’ – Tyrone McCullagh hit very hard by first career defeat

Tyrone McCullagh [14(6)-1(0)] revealed that his first pro defeat him it that hard that he was close to slipping into depression.

The Derry featherweight was outpointed by British champion Ryan Walsh in February.

The reverse, the first in the boxing nurses career, prevented him progressing to the Golden Contract final and ended his hopes of securing a six figure five fight contract with a top promoter believed to be Top Rank.

The tricky southpaw performed well for the first half of the fight, but never recovered when the English fighter finally caught up with him and landed heavy.

However, McCullagh found it hard to find solace in the fact he performed in part.

‘White Chocolate’ felt he had let his fans down and shut off from the world once he returned home.

“It hit me harder than I could ever have imagined,” said McCullagh, a qualified health nurse, when he talking to the Belfast Telegraph.

“I was naturally devastated by the defeat but then it got to the point when my friends and family were getting worried about me.

“When I got back to the hotel after the fight I felt really bad because all the people who had paid their hard-earned money to come and watch me from Derry and Belfast were there and I felt I’d let them down and also I just didn’t feel like engaging in any conversation and that was wrong.

“I had been so used to having a bit of craic after the fights and of course this time the atmosphere was so down. When I got back home I didn’t go out for days and I stopped communicating with my mates.”

The 29-year-old suggests things could have got worse, but for the intervention of his father.

“That’s when it started to worry the people around me and then one morning my dad called me aside and told me he had been up all night because he was so concerned and that really jolted me and made me realise that even just for the people in the house I had to try and lift myself.

“My dad, Vin, had his own mental health issues when he was younger and saw signs he didn’t like,” he adds before revealing manager Jamie Conlan helped assure him the defeat wasn’t as catastrophic career wise as he first thought.

“So I knew I had to try and lift myself and I started to socialise with my mates again and go for a run and then my manager Jamie Conlan rang to say that he had some plans for big fights, that the defeat to Walsh hadn’t damaged my career at all and that helped.

“Then came the virus and we’re all in the same boat as sports people. Everything is on hold but the virus also reminded me that there are more important things than boxing.”

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