Tyrone McCullagh's European title tilt could pave the way for pro boxing show in Derry

Derry southpaw Tyrone McCullagh fights for the WBO European title in Belfast on Friday but could he be headlining in his hometown soon?
Derry southpaw Tyrone McCullagh fights for the WBO European title in Belfast on Friday but could he be headlining in his hometown soon?

DERRY BOXER, Sean McGlinchey believes it’s only a matter of time before the city stages its first professional boxing promotion since the early 1980s.

The city’s boxing fraternity received a significant coup when MTK Global scheduled a fight-week press conference for Tyrone McCullagh’s WBO super-bantamweight European title fight at the Bentley Bar on Market Street tomorrow (Tuesday, 1 p.m.).

Former EBU European champions, Charlie Nash and Paul ‘Dudie’ McCloskey are expected to be among those in attendance alongside McCullagh, McGlinchey and top ranked middleweight, Connor Coyle.

And Irish professional boxing manager, Seamus Cunning, who was influential in bringing the event to the maiden city, reckons it could prove a major stepping stone towards hosting a professional bill during, what he describes as, a ‘golden era’ of Derry boxing.

“This is stage one in our bid to bring professional boxing to the city,” he said. “I’d like to think when Tyrone McCullagh wins the European title on Friday, we could secure a top show in Derry within 12 months featuring all three of the city’s professional boxers.”

Creggan southpaw, McGlinchey, who makes his return to the ring after an enforced 16 months absence as part of the ‘Danger at the Docks’ bill at the Titantic Exhibition Centre on Friday night, is also optimistic of bringing a professional show to the city for the first time since Charlie Nash defeated Frank McCord in the Guildhall in September 1982!

At present the British Boxing Board won’t sanction a pro boxing promotion in Derry due to health and safety regulations, given the city’s distance from the nearest neurological unit.

With work beginning on the A6 Dungiven to Drumahoe dualling scheme that problem could be solved soon, making the Royal Victoria Hospital more accessible.

While that project isn’t scheduled to be completed until four years time, McGlinchey believes now is the perfect time to make inroads toward bringing pro boxing back to the city with McCullagh, Coyle and himself having the potential to attract bumper crowds.

“You chat about Eamonn O’Kane and Paul McCloskey from Co. Derry but I can’t remember when you last had two professional boxers from the city boxing on the same card,” said McGlinchey.

“There’s a big push to bring professional boxing to the city. The only thing holding it back is the distance to a neurological unit. It’s the only blocking point.

“It’s only 10 minutes out and if they make that up with these new roads then you could well see myself, Tyrone (McCullagh) and Connor (Coyle) all boxing in the city together.

“Tyrone is fighting for a European title already in Belfast. It’s great for him but it’s sad he has to take it in Belfast.

“If we look two years down the line, what titles will he be fighting for then if he’s fighting for the European title now? So he could bring that to his home city.

“It’s an exciting time for the whole city. It reminds you of Belfast five or six years ago when boxing was really kicking off. We have the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium, Celtic Park and all these places with three professional boxers in the city and loads more up and coming in the amateur ranks. It’s very exciting.”

While staging an outdoor show would incur significant costs, Mr Cunning and co. believe the Foyle Arena would be a ready-made venue for a potential professional boxing event in the coming months