TYRONE McCullagh apologised to fans who came to watch him stretch his unbeaten professional record to 8-0 as his fight ended in farcical scenes at the Devenish Complex in Belfast on Saturday night.
The 27 year-old super bantamweight from Derry headlined his first show as a professional but the main event on the Ginley Promotions card quickly turned sour when his English opponent was disqualified midway through the second of the scheduled eight rounder for repeated rules infractions.
British Boxing Board of Control Central Area super flyweight champion, Craig Derbyshire - a late stand-in opponent - charged at McCullagh after a messy exchange before attempting to put the Derry man in a headlock. Ignoring calls to break from referee, Hugh Russell Jnr, Derbyshire was eventually pulled off and disqualified.
It wasn’t the desired method of victory for McCullagh but, nevertheless, it was another win as he continues to move up the super bantamweight ladder.
And it was a fitting ending to a ‘nightmare fight week’ for the talented southpaw whose preparations were disrupted with two changes of opponent in the final 48 hours before the fight.
Indeed, the Glen native was pencilled in to fight Ecuador’s Jefferson Vargas who was forced to pull out late on following visa difficulties.
I don’t think the fight was going to go the distance anyway - I was only getting warmed up!Tyrone McCullagh
His management team secured an exciting replacement in unbeaten German prospect, Tom Tran (6-0) with the possibility of a title on the line but, once again his opponent withdrew from the fight despite having flights booked.
Finally, at the 11th hour the hunt for a supposedly credible replacement was over as Derbyshire (5-20-3) stepped up to the challenge and the fight was on!
McCullagh was well in control of the fight at the Devenish Complex but when the pair came together in a clinch, the Englishman’s glove appeared to touch the canvas. The referee didn’t intervene and McCullagh targeted the body of his opponent.
Clearly infuriated with McCullagh, Derbyshire charged at the Derry man with his head before grabbing him in a headlock before the fight was called to an abrupt end.
It was a crazy conclusion to the fight and McCullagh, despite the win, felt the need to apologise to those who witnessed the scenes.
“I’d like to apologise to each and every person who bought a ticket off me and travelled far to come see me fight last night,” said McCullagh.
“It was a typical finish to what had been a bit of a nightmare fight week. My management had lined up a great eight round title fight for me only for it to fall through on Thursday morning, then we had got another great title fight that day and the boxer pulled out again after his flights were booked on Thursday night.
“Subsequently that was the best that could be brought in, in such short notice last night. I had promised everyone a bigger and better fight and I am sorry that it didn’t happen and I am sorry that the fight itself only lasted a round and a bit although the referee had no other option but to disqualify him. With that being said, I don’t think the fight was going to go the distance anyway - I was only getting warmed up!
“This is all part of boxing, it was still a great experience to headline a show for the first time and I’m delighted to be 8-0.”