Fighting live on Sky Sports for the first time since his knockout defeat to Richard Riakporhe back in March, McCarthy dominated Francesco Cataldo on the big outdoor Matchroom Italia and Opi Since 82 card.
Following two knockdowns in the second, Lenadoon’s McCarthy was awarded a third-round TKO win when Cataldo’s corner retired him in a somewhat frustrating ending.
The Commonwealth silver medallist looked in shape and sharp throughout – and certainly was not in the ‘sparring partner mode’ he had inadvertently slipped into during a torrid period of inactivity.
The Belfast cruiserweight had been due to challenge WBC International champion Fabio Turchi [17(13)-0] at the Stadio Nicola Pietrangeli tonight but the Florence contender would pull out during fight week for unspecified reasons.
Thankfully, McCarthy’s spot on the DAZN card was saved and he was provided with, on paper, a solid test in veteran local fighter Cataldo.
Indeed, rather than a “do or die” away gamble as Carl Frampton had described previously, McCarthy essentially had his rebuild from the Riakporhe defeat elongated and is now perfectly primed for a big fight.
28-year-old McCarthy, wearing claret and blue socks in a nod to his old amateur club Oliver Plunketts, began by jabbing to the fleshy midrift of Cataldo in a quiet opener.
Stepping it up in the second round, McCarthy let go with right hands, knocking Cataldo off balance before knocking him down. ‘The Mack Attack’ didn’t go in for the kill immediately but would buzz the home fighter with counter shots and sent him to the canvas again in the closing seconds with a flurry of shots.
The stoppage win sees the Irishman improve to 15(8)-2(1) while Cataldo falls to 7(2)-6(2).
With manager Mark Dunlop sharing a good working relationship with Matchroom’s Eddie Hearn, and the cruiserweight division booming domestically, it is hoped that McCarthy can secure further big fights on the Sky Sports platform.