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Team Carl McDonald open to possibility of Tyrone McCullagh clash

Carl McDonald will enjoy Christmas and some time reflecting on a 12 months that should see him in contention for Irish domestic Fighter of the Year before he embarks on a 2019 that could lead to some big fights.

One of these is a scrap with Derry’s Tyrone McCullagh, with the Tallaght man’s manager, Stephen Sharpe, admitting that they would be open to a clash with ‘White Chocolate’.

29-year-old McDonald [5(0)-2(0)] followed up a brilliant BUI Celtic title win over Colin O’Donovan at featherweight with an emotional Jobstown derby Irish super bantamweight title win over Dylan McDonagh on Celtic Clash last Saturday.

Not only does his manager believe the win capped off one of the more successful years for any Irish boxer, he claims it sets up a big 2019 for ‘The Cobra’.

Having proven himself at domestic level, the Eddie Hyland-trained fighter may now get the chance to move to the next level – although there is one more all-Irish match-up that appeals to the Boxing Ireland Promotions fight boss.

Sharpe suggests a clash with McCullagh may be the natural next step and, considering the Derry man holds the BBBoC Celtic title and the WBO European rankings title, it could prove to be a opportunity for a ‘kill two birds with one stone’ move.

“We will have to wait and see on that one, but I’m sure 2019 will provide some big opportunities for Carl. Domestically I suppose the one of real significance would be against Tyrone McCullagh but for now we will let Carl enjoy his latest victory and get Christmas out of the way,” Sharpe told Irish-Boxing.com.

McCullagh [12(6)-0] is another who enjoyed a break-out 2018 having taken two unbeaten records and two belts with successive wins over Joe Ham and Josh Kennedy. The boxing nurse has been vocal about trying to set up a world title fight IBF super bantamweight world champion TJ Doheny but may not be adverse to a high-profile Irish title fight in the meantime.

The Foylesider was due to fight on the card in Belfast a week from today but is no longer featuring on the bill. McCullagh remains training, however, suggesting that there is another fight in the pipeline for the European bronze medallist.

Regardless of what’s ahead, Sharpe has hailed his fighter’s most recent achievements and has hailed how the Irish champion has turned his career around.

“Tell me anyone else who has improved as much as Carl has within the last 12 months,” he continues.

“Up until May of this year Carl’s performances were either poor or bang average. Then he goes to London and puts in a solid performance on a couple of days notice against Jordan Gill who was 19-0 at the time and has since won a Commonwealth title at featherweight. 

“Then two months later beats Colin O’Donovan for the Celtic Title in a fight that was made at super bantamweight, but moved up to featherweight the night before the weigh-in as O’Donovan couldn’t make the weight.

“The performance against O’Donovan was levels above anything Carl had delivered up until that point, outworking, outboxing and even dropping Colin. His Celtic Title win didn’t get nowhere near the credit it deserved. 

“Fast forward four months and he wins the Irish title against Dylan, that is one hell of a six months.” 

Such domestic success didn’t look on the cards when McDonald was beaten by Regan Buckley, who has since returned to the amateurs, in September of last year.

However, Sharpe claims it was the addition of Graham McCormack to Team TNT rather than points reverse which was the catalyst for serious change and thus the recent success.

“Everything has changed since that fight, Carl is a different fighter in every way. I’m not sure Carl would agree with this but I started to see a change is Carl when Graham McCormack started training with Eddie Hyland. I think that might have sparked something in Carl.”

“Him and Graham hit it off and started to push each other on. Then Carl added strength and conditioning to his training. Then the six rounds against Jordan Gill on the Matchroom card gave him a real boost and it’s just gone on from there.”

“Then he also has Eddie who has proved over the last couple of months that he is quickly becoming one of Irelands top trainers. The TNT Gym has an incredible togetherness about it, the guys work for each other, fight for each other and that has also benefited Carl.” 

While much of the talk has been of McDonald since his win, Sharpe claims the loser of Saturday’s title fight, Dylan McDonagh, deserves credit and shouldn’t be forgotten by Irish fight fans.

“On Sunday morning I said to my wife Caroline that I’m delighted Carl won but a big part of me wished it’s wasn’t at Dylan’s expense. Dylan McDonagh is one of the most genuine fellas you could meet and works as hard as any fighter I know. No shit talk just puts his head down and stays focused. Truth is, he will win titles, look how much he has improved over the last 18 months.” 

“I’m really excited to see where this journey takes him. He has a good team around him, and I expect him to bounce straight back.”

Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)


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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 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