Tyrone McCullagh looks to cause PANDA-monium after scaring off Mexican

Tyrone McCullagh (right) pictured with his Golden Contract quarter-final opponent, Razaq Najib (left) and MTK Global's Lee Eaton.
Tyrone McCullagh (right) pictured with his Golden Contract quarter-final opponent, Razaq Najib (left) and MTK Global's Lee Eaton.

TYRONE McCULLAGH believes he scared off Mexican featherweight, Carlos Araujo who was forced to withdraw from their Golden Contract quarter-final clash at the York Hall, Bethnall Green just 24 hours before fight night.

And the talented southpaw, who will wear his custom made panda-draped shorts in the hope of raising awareness for the endangered species, is hoping to cause further pandemonium in the ring on Friday night as he takes the first step towards that money-spinning five fight deal with MTK Global.

Mexican fighter, Araujo, was unable to safely make the weight at Thursday's weigh-in and was replaced by Sheffield’s Razaq Najib (11-3-0) who was on standby.

Some bookies have McCullagh a massive 1/50 favourite to dispatch of the Englishman but the Derry southpaw isn’t reading too much into those particular odds.

"Definitely on paper, I shouldn’t be tempting fate here, but it definitely worked out in my favour a bit," said the 29 year-old.

"I didn’t know the odds were out already but I wouldn’t read too much into it because they had me 1/6 against the Mexican and I was never 1/6 against him as he is a tough, tough lad and I had my work cut out for me.

"I was very confident and thought he would’ve brought out the best in me but 1/6 was madness. So 1/50 might be a bit mad as well.

"The Mexican was left to last for a reason (during the quarter-finals draw)," he added. "No one wanted him and I ended up with him but it sort of worked out in the end up.

"I think I might have scared the Mexican off by telling him he was fighting a real ‘Paddy’," he laughed.

"Not much has changed because we didn’t know who we were fighting until Tuesday anyway. However, my gameplan hasn’t changed. I was going to try and make the Mexican fight my fight and I’m still going to do the same on Friday.

"Obviously I’ve been getting ready for Araujo and now I have to quickly reset with Najib. I’m going to go in and do my thing. No matter who I fought I was going to try and make them fight my fight. It’s the way I box, I try and make people come to me. It’s still the same gameplan and getting the win is the main thing."

WBO European super bantamweight champion, McCullagh, is actually joint second favourite alongside Leigh Wood, to win the entire tournament at 7/2 behind British champion, Ryan Walsh (10/3).

And while he’s not taking his eye off the task at hand, McCullagh believes he’s more than capable of winning the overall event.

"I plan on going the whole way," he insisted. "I’m not taking my eye off Friday night but why would I enter it if I didn’t think I could win it? I want that contract and the first step is on Friday night and I don’t plan on having any slip-ups."

McCullagh wore a conspicuous looking bright red shirt decorated with pandas to Wednesday’s press conference and his shorts on fight night will also be adorned with the endangered bear.

Asked about his penchant for pandas, McCullagh, who claims he pays a monthly fee to adopt a panda he has named ‘Just Dave’, explained he was hoping to highlight the severity of the bear’s current plight.

And while he caused quite a stir with his comments, McCullagh, who is known for his outrageous pranks, insists he’s serious about his bid to highlight the cause.

"I’m raising awareness for them. I’m 100 per cent serious. It’s only £3 a month with the World Wildlife Federation."

It’s been an eventful and not so conventional fight week but McCullagh has loved every minute of it.

"I’ve been confident all week. It’s been a really enjoyable fight week with the draw which was a new experience and I had a good laugh yesterday at the press conference.

"That’s what it’s all about - I’m here to enjoy myself. But come Friday I’ll flip the switch so to speak and start focusing on the fight.

"It’s all about enjoying yourself and going with the flow. Come Friday evening I’ll flick the switch and go out and do a job."

He feels a lot more comfortable at featherweight, weighing in at 8st 13lbs and he’s excited about performing in front of the live Sky Sports audience.

"It’s fantastic that it’s on Sky Sports, you have to make the most of these opportunities. I plan on being there in the semis."