Marco McCullough [17(10)-4(3)] returns to the ring on Saturday night following the fourth defeat of his career – however the Shankill featherweight knows himself, and indeed proved against Ryan Walsh, that he has plenty left to give.
Norfolk’s Walsh retained the British title outright against McCullough back in May via eleventh round stoppage, however the Belfast boxer gave the champion the toughest fight of his reign.
It was a second domestic title defeat for McCullough, who was also stopped by Isaac Lowe in a Commonwealth title tilt, but he is not losing heart and makes his comeback this weekend.
McCullough returns in a six rounder on the ‘Frampton Reborn’ undercard at the SSE Odyssey Arena, being reunited with his former Cyclone stablemate as both now fight under the MTK Global banner.
28 next week, McCullough is hopeful of featuring on further Frampton cards and told Irish-Boxing.com that “he’s the draw, really. People are saying Burnett’s going to take over, but still at this minute Frampton is the main man here. We’re just glad he’s on board with us and we’re back on the big shows, we had it with the McGuigans.”
“Everyone wants on the Carl Frampton shows, it’s always been like that the last couple of years. Him coming on with MTK, there’s talk of a big show next year, maybe Windsor Park in the Summer – I’m just hoping to hold on to the back of his shirt and get on the big shows!”
It’s a first fight back since losing to Walsh in London six months ago, and the Ulsterman takes heart from the defeat.
Reflecting on the bout, McCullough recalled how Walsh” was strong, but he was more technical than I thought. I thought he was going to come for a brawl and it would suit me on the back foot boxing – but he’s a smart enough boxer, and strong too.
“No disrespect to Ryan Walsh, he done the job on me, he beat me on the night – but I still just feel like I’m missing something, I’m too tense, I’m too tight. All these big shows, I just seem to be freezing. My coach broke his leg the day before the Walsh fight, he didn’t even go with me! Everything went wrong.”
McCullough, who recently became a father, has been working throughout the Summer and explained that “we sat down and tried and work things out in this camp and we’ve had a big change. We came back and looked at it, seeing what I did wrong and I saw where I went wrong, things I could change.”
“I’m back to boxing. Everything seems to be coming together, I’m a bit behind, but we’ll get there. Every camp I’m finding out bits more of what I’m capable of. I went stale for a while, maybe it was confidence, but I’ve a new team around me and I’m enjoying boxing.”
There were suggestions after the Walsh loss, as there were after the Lowe defeat, that McCullough should move up in weight.
The Ormeau Road club man doesn’t see the need, but admits it could be an option for big fights.
McCullough confirmed that “I’m going to stay at featherweight for the next couple of fights, we’ll see. I make it, and if I was killing myself I would move up, I’d be big enough to move up. But I’ll stay on for now, and if it’s time to move up, it’s time to move up, but it’s no big deal. There are some great fights there at super featherweight in Ireland and Northern Ireland though.”
On Saturday McCullough will face English fighter Josh Baillie [5(2)-3(1)], a game, naturally bigger opponent whose last fight, admittedly 12 months ago, saw him stop the then 8 and 0 Manny Zaber.
A decent undercard scrap over six rounds, McCullough described how “I’d rather fight someone like that, rather than one of these Hungarians or Bulgarians who’s just coming to survive. So I’m looking forward to it.”
It’s a real fight, and McCullough wants to move into domestic title contention soonafter, outlining that “we’ll get this fight out of the way, January another hard fight, then get another crack and go again.”
“We’re just on the line and we can’t get past it! I just need to have one more win at domestic level to push on and give me that bit of confidence I’m lacking at the minute.”