McCullagh to headline in title defence against Spanish champion

Tyrone McCullagh [12(6)-0] returns to the top of the bill and big fight action when he makes the first defense of his WBO European super-bantamweight crown against Alvaro Rodriguez [9(1)-2(0)-1] in Newcastle on May 3rd.

‘White Chocolate’ was scheduled to fight on the undercard of Keeler v Cummings 2 in Belfast, but pulled out after getting the chance to headline in a title fight in early May.

It’s the second successive time the boxing nurse will be a main attraction having topped a Belfast bill against Josh Kennedy late last year – and he is certainly enjoying the privledge and spotlight.

“I love the attention that being the main event brings. It gives you that extra bit of buzz. It’s all part of boxing and there are nerves but headlining shows is where you want to be,” confirms the Derry man.

“I boxed way down the bill on Ryan Burnett and Carl Frampton cards and fighting in an empty stadium was surreal. Then I boxed Joe Ham quite high up on a show at The SSE Arena and then headlined against Josh Kelly to win this title,” he adds before suggesting the Spanish champion will gift him the chance to impress.”

“Rodriguez is a very good opponent. He’s a talented counter-puncher so hopefully he brings out the best in me but I’ve no doubt I’m going to retain my title on the night.

“The belt is actually at my friend’s house in Belfast! I haven’t got around to going and getting it back but I actually took it to my friend’s house because I didn’t trust myself not to lose it while I was there.”

Keeping the WBO European ranking title and improving on his #13 placing isn’t the only title dream the Derry City fighter has for 2019.

The 28-year-old southpaw believes he can close in on a world title fight over the coming months and wants to benefit from MTK’s link up with ESPN – with the show set to be aired on the ESPN+ app in America.

“Ultimately, I want to get that world title shot and I’d have to vacate this belt to do it but it’s already got me to 13th with the WBO and if I defend it a few times then I could be in the top 10.”

“There are big shows this summer that a world title shot could come on. I know Emanuel Navarrete and Isaac Dogboe are both with Top Rank so whoever wins that, it could work out.”

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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 sport for a living for 19 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