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‘I wanted him and I got him’ – Emotional McCullagh reacts to Tommy Hyde win

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It’s just one win, but a very important one for Paul McCullagh.

The Belfast banger somewhat upset the odds on Saturday night with a 4-1 split decision win in an intriguing contest with Tommy Hyde.

After a brilliant display of heart from both boxers and a three round war that brought the crowd to their feet, the Ulster light heavyweight champion was confirmed the victor.

The win not only secured the Bosco boy a place in this years National Elite Championship semi finals, but provided McCullagh with a form of revenge.

Despite the 81kg division being wide open since Joe Ward’s departure to the pro ranks, McCullagh was considering not entering the blue ribbon tournament.

However, only the fact he wasn’t happy with the circumstances of his exit in February’s equivalent prompted him to compete.

The big puncher, who turned 20 over the weekend, exited at the semi final stage to the Cork man earlier in the year. The defeat came after the youngster had lost his grandfather and coach Paul McCullagh – a very respected and popular figure in Irish boxing – in the build up to the fight.

McCullagh felt he didn’t do himself justice that night and as a result was keen to avenge the defeat.

“I was really looking forward to facing Tommy,” an emotional and ecstatic McCullagh told post the win.

“I wanted to get him in the Elites because when I fought him last [time] in the semi-finals of the All-Irelands my grandfather passed away shortly before. My head was all over the place as he was my coach. I was a shadow of myself when I boxed Tommy.”

“I wasn’t even going to enter the All-Ireland’s but thankfully I got back training and I came down here to get Hyde,” he continued before stating emphatically.”

“I wanted him and I got him.”

The bout was a close and entertaining encounter, but one the quietly confident McCullagh felt he won.

“I’m confident in silence, I don’t like to walk around and talk on Facebook. I like to do my talking in the ring and thank god I got the decision here tonight because it was deserved,” he added.

The crowd was divided when the decision was announced with Hydes’s faithful claiming the victory and the traveling McCullagh fans having a moment to remember in Dublin.

It was obviously a fantastic moment for the boxer and one that will give him an amazing amount of confidence heading into Monday night’s semi-finals.

McCullagh will now face Emmet Brennan in what is sure to be a fan-friendly contest and one that will get a lot of people through the door.

The 81kg division looks very tasty heading into the semi-finals Monday with McCullagh looking to claim the top spot amongst big names such as Browne, reigning champ Thomas O’Toole, and Brennan.


Josh Reid McCabe

Boxing fanatic, part-time writer for the Star newspaper Email