Tyrone McCullagh expects busy summer as he makes long awaited return on MTK card tonight
AFTER 16 frustrating months out of the ring and with no pay-day, Tyrone McCullagh (14-1) can’t wait to return to action tonight as he finally gets the chance to get his first career loss out of his system.
It was a bleak period for ‘White Chocolate’ who at one point was fearing for his career when an unexpected anomaly was detected on a routine brain scan, forcing the British Boxing Board of Control to temporarily relieve him of his license pending further investigation.
Thankfully the Glen Road man got the all-clear but he was stuck in boxing limbo and worried about when his next pay cheque would come or even if he would have to reconsider his future in the sport.
What made the situation even harder to deal with was he was coming off his first professional loss to Ryan Walsh in the Sky Sports televised Golden Contract semi-finals at Bethnal Green in February 2021.
The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic compounded matters and it’s been a long road back for the qualified mental health nurse.
That’s all in the past now for McCullagh, however, and he’s expecting to make up for lost time with a busy summer of activity, starting tonight against journeyman Brett Fidoe (14-65-5) on MTK’s fight night at the University of Bolton Stadium.
“I am delighted to be back,” said McCullagh. “There were a few times when it just seemed like it wasn’t going to happen, but I’m in fight week now and can’t wait to get in there."
Fidoe has six knockout wins to his name and has had six fights during the 16 months period McCullagh has been idle. Therefore, he’s careful not to underestimate his opponent.
“I’ll not underestimate Brett Fidoe. He is a lot better than his record suggests. He’s taken a lot of records from unbeaten boxers and takes rounds from everybody, so I’m preparing for a tough fight. He takes rounds off everyone. He's only been stopped twice in 85 fights and that was by Dennis McCann and Andrew Selby. He's very game and I'll need to perform well to get the win."
So, while he’s never been far from the gym during his enforced lay-off, how has he managed to cope with a difficult period on the sidelines?
"I've not had much luck, boxing-wise. I had that defeat in the semi-finals with Ryan Walsh and then we were hit with a pandemic and I was at the back of the queue, fight-wise. When I got to the front of the queue there was a query about my medical and that took another couple of months to clear up with coronavirus. And then I got a fight and it was postponed. Sixteen months later I've finally weighed in and I'm ready to fight.
“You have to be very tough mentally. All that time I’m training away in Dublin full-time there’s no money coming in and all the out-goings continue so it’s been very, very tough to be honest.”
The Derry man has been in good hands at Pete Taylor’s gym in Dublin where he has been tweaking his style and the elusive southpaw is expecting to change it up slightly for his return.
“Pete Taylor has been working with me on tweaking my style the last couple of months. It’s about not moving as much and planting my feet a bit more. I’m still a work in progress but it’s coming on.
“I haven’t completely changed but I’m going to be a bit more attacking and maybe put a bit more behind my punches,” he explained.
“The gym is flying at the minute and it’s great to see. Everyone feeds off it and it’s a big couple of months coming up for our stable.
“I’ll get the win on Friday and then I’ll be straight back into camp after a few days off. I plan to be out again in August and that’s only around the corner. I need to stay active afterwards so I’ll be straight back to camp.”