IT WAS his first fight of 2017 and his first under new management but it was the same old story for exciting super bantamweight, Tyrone McCullagh at the Devenish Complex on Friday night.
The talented southpaw convincingly out-pointed tricky Ghanaian, Michael Barnor at the Belfast venue on Friday night to stretch his pro record to 6-0 in his first outing of the year.
I hit him with a combination of punches and he fell through the ropes. He was definitely hurt because when he got to his feet he dropped to his knees straight away.Tyrone McCullagh
McCullagh has now set his sights on a shot at the Celtic title before the end of the 2017 as his professional career heats up.
The Glen Road man, who stopped Edwin Tellez in the fourth round of his last outing in October, faced a tricky test against the ‘awkward’ southpaw, Barnor who came to the ring with a decent record of 14-8-2.
However, Tyrone, representing Matthew Macklin’s MTK promotions, overcame the challenge with flying colours and had his opponent rocked in the second round.
In fact Barnor was wobbled in the opener and after a combination of punches put the Ghanaian through the ropes in the second, he managed to ‘buy time’, claiming he had a problem with his boots which allowed him to recover from the onslaught.
He had tape applied to his soles midway through the round two to stop him from sliding across the canvas and McCullagh felt the ‘tactic’ saved his opponent from suffering a certain KO.
“I was happy with my performance,” said McCullagh. “I had him down in the second round and definitely could have taken him out in the second round if he didn’t buy a load of time when he said he was slipping.
“He took about two minutes after I knocked him down saying his boots were slippy. After that I knew he had recovered so I didn’t want to rush it. I was never in danger to be honest. I think he might have landed one or two punches the whole fight.
“I hit him with a combination of punches and he fell through the ropes. He was definitely hurt because when he got to his feet he dropped to his knees straight away.
“He said that was because his boots were giving him bother but I think it was just a tactic to buy him time.”
Referee, Eamonn Magill did his utmost to stop Barnor’s excessive holding and foul play in the fourth and final round but it mattered little to the end result as McCullagh cruised to another victory.
“He was awkward and a bit of a spoiler,” said McCullagh. “He was a bit dirty with his head as well but that’s to be expected.
“It was good experience for me but guys like him just want to spoil and survive. I think he was maybe looking for excuses because he was wearing proper boxing boots so it’s probably an old move. I want to keep active and push towards an Irish title shot.”
“It’s all learning at this stage of my career. People are going to be dirty in the pro game and I’ll learn from it. I’m just glad to get another four rounds under my belt and get the win.”
It was another learning curve for McCullagh who says he’s ready for his first eight rounder in his next outing.
“There will be tougher tests down the line but in saying that he had a decent record coming in. He had 14 wins with 10 knockouts and six or seven defeats. So that’s not bad and probably another step up.
“It’s my first one of the year and I’m hoping for a big enough year and get my first title. That’s the start of it now so I’ll hopefully hear from my manager at MTK within the next couple of weeks about getting another fight as soon as possible. They were happy with my performance and said they’ll be in touch soon.
“I’d like an eight rounder for my next fight just to experience it as once I get eight rounds I’ll ask for a title shot as soon as possible.
“The Celtic title would be a nice one to have at the end of the year. It’s a ranking title and it’s one to go for and one which would suit me. Hopefully I can get a shot at that around September maybe.
“I need to stay active. I’d like to do maybe an eight rounder next. It would be a different pace, and I need to start learning that. I’ll have to talk to my manager (Sam Kynoch) and my coach, Gerry Storey and see what they think.
“It was supposed to be a six rounder, but a few things got changed about. I would have liked to have went the six rounds just to see how I would’ve done, but it will come. That’s only the second time I’ve went four rounds, my last fight was a six rounder but it only went three and a bit rounds.
“It was a step up in opponent, and he was awkward. As I’ve said before, the better the opponent the better I’ll get.”
McCullagh was thankful for the travelling support which included Derry super middleweight, Sean McGlinchey who will make his pro debut at the same venue on April 22nd next.
“I had brilliant support down at it. The Derry ones makes some noise. It was a good set-up and everyone seemed to enjoy it.
“I’d also like to thank my sponsors, David Fox at Pro Gym, Bronagh O’Reilly (BeYou Massage Therapy) and B-fast couriers for their continued support.”