‘This is a coming of age fight’ and ‘the toughest test of his career’ predicted former fighter, current promoter and soon to be fortune teller Barry McGuigan ahead of Marc McCullough’s WBO title challenge in the Waterfront Brawl on Friday night.
The Irish boxing legend was certainly proved right. Martin Parlagi is a name and the title bout is a clash that McCullough will recall long after he hangs up his gloves. Indeed it could prove a career defining victory for the Irish featherweight champion.
McCullough not only learnt a lot about championship boxing in the Steve Grey refereed bout, but learnt a lot about himself in the entertaining battle.
The Shankill Road favourite had to climb up of the canvas, deal with a cut between the eyes, that seeped blood to the extent McCullough’s nose was as red as a clowns and deal with a fit and sometimes furious opponent, who hit low and used his head on more than one occasion before his hand was raised.
It certainly wasn’t easy, but the victory and the manner in which it came will stand to the McCullough- and while Team McCullough were visibly nervous throughout the fight, they were more than content post a cracking contest, smiling in the knowledge that such a tough battle could prove the making of their man.
Parlagi came out of the blocks in the first round, he was wilder than a Spring Break party goer on occasion, but had joy nonetheless. He forced first time bill topper McCullough to slump with some vicious body shots and his long looping left landed flush more than once.
McCullough had expected a fast start and when he put his opponent down with a short hook in the second he would have felt he was about to take control. Parlagi, however had other ideas and drew McCullough into a fight over the next two rounds. The Slovakian looked more comfortable up close and punished the Breen’s fighter for his gusto.
Indeed the formerly undefeated pro, who most featherweight’s will avoid if they see the tape of last nights bout, leveled up the knock down stakes with left hand of his own in the fourth. ‘Hold son’ screamed John Breen in the corner, but McCullough hadn’t listened to the ‘keep it long’ instructions up to that point and he wasn’t going to listen then. He came back firing and the round ended in highly entertaining fashion.
A cut opened up on the bridge of the local favourites nose in the next round and was widened further by no fewer than two head butts. The sense of worry grew among the watching fight fans, but McCullough held his nerve and finally began to box.
Over the next few three minute installments he began to make the visiting fighter miss and punished him accordingly. He also put distance between himself and his foe and when he jabbed he all but paralysed Parlagi and prevented him from attempting this aggressive assaults.
The Slovakian did enough in some of the closing rounds to leave some McCullough supporters nervous, but the home fighter was more accurate and more punishing with his shots in the final few rounds. As a result he secured a 95-93, 97-91, 98-92 points win, picks up the WBO European title and earns himself a WBO world top 15 ranking.
There was no Mexican Mariachi Music for Jamie Conlan’s fans to dance to as he walked into the ring, but ‘The Mexican’ managed to get ‘Sombrero Brigade’ dancing in celebration thanks to an 11 straight victory.
The Belfast flyweight didn’t enter the ring to his usual ring walk music, but left it as he has done 10 times previous, victorious. The Breen’s Gym puncher made a successful first defense of his WBO super flyweight title stopping Gablor Molnar 1:58 into the third round.
Budapest’s Molnar looked hungry from the off and despite not winning the opening stanza did enough to ensure Conlan got a verbal warning from John Breen and a more physical ‘clip around the ear’ from Eamonn Magee.
Molnar continued to prove awkward throughout the second, but Conlan began to figure out his style and sunk his opponent to the Waterfront Hall canvas with a sensational right hand toward the end of the round.
To everyone’s surprise the Hungary fighter rose to his feet, but was reacquainted with the canvas twice in the third stanza and the fight was called to a halt 1:58 into the round.
Conlan now hopes to secure a British title shot on the massive Frampton v Martinez II card.
‘Beast’ , ‘Animal’ and ‘Awesome’ were just some of the words used by Cyclone Promotions to describe Conrad Cummings ahead of his third pro bout.
We didn’t quite get to see the jovial and pleasant middleweight complete a Jekyll and Hyde transformation and turn into a blood hungry animal, but the former Irish amateur still managed to register the knock out the night.
The Shane McGuigan trained pro took out Lakos Munkacsi, a fighter with 11 wins and three draws in 27 fights, without moving into second gear. The former WSB boxer took a more methodical approach in the first stanza. A lot of thought went into his work, he picked shots and created openings with jabs faints.
However, a more refined Cummings still posses volume and power and Munkacsi shipped some solid body shots as well as a variety of punches to the head before the bell to end the first. Cummings increased the tempo in the second and it didn’t take long for the Pole to fold under the pressure.
The Holy Trinity graduate dazed his foe with a left hook before crashing him to the canvas with a straight right, forcing Paul McCullaugh to call a halt to proceedings 55 seconds into round 2.
So impressive was the victory that there was a sense among those ringside that a fuse has been lit and it won’t be long before ‘Dynamite’ explodes on to the big time.
It wasn’t quite back with Bang, but Willie ‘Big Bang’ Casey returned with a points win made impressive by the fact he took the fight a short notice and hadn’t fought since last October.
The former European super bantamweight champion defeated recent Martin Lindsay foe Krzsztof Rogowski 59-55 in his first clash since he lost to bill topper Marc McCullough in an Irish title fight.
The popular Limerick southpaw found a home for the left hand early on and bloodied his opponents nose in the second. Rogowski, who holds amateur wins over Carl Frampton and John Joe Nevin, never really threaten to cause an upset, but he did give the former Prizefighter winner a good work out.
He came forward looking for work and front foot specialist Casey had to produce on the back foot on occasion.
Straight left hands continued land as Casey displayed timing and accuracy in parts of each round. In the final two stanza’s Casey early work started to pay dividends and the Pole tired, but a stoppage never looked on the cards.
Casey, however was content to get a six round work out, rid himself of some rust and reintroduce himself to fight fans after a frustrating lay off.
Conal Carmichael returned after a year out with a 40-35 points win over Belfast based Ugandian Moses Matovu. There certainly nothing routine about any fight with the respected yet awkward journey man is involved in, but it was somewhat straight forward for the Belfast cruiserweight.
Carmichael took every round against the survival specialist and admits all the play acting and pantomime behavior from his opponent he managed to drop the Ugandan in the second round.
Carmichael was patient behind a good jab and as the fight wore landed some solid combinations. However, despite the flash knock down Matovu ensured the crowd only had his play acting antics and not a Carmichael knock down to cheer.
Carl Frampton sparring partner Isaac Dogboe also registered victory on the card. The Ghanaian opened the show with a four round shut out of Nedim Kara.