TYRONE McCullagh will make the first defence of his WBO European super-bantamweight title in Newcastle on May 3rd next.
The unbeaten ‘White Chocolate’, ranked 13th by WBO, will be top of the bill at the Newcastle Eagles Community Arena – live on iFL TV - as he takes on Spanish champion, 32 year-old Alvaro Rodriguez (9-2-1) from Madrid.
The Derry man was forced to withdraw from his scheduled six rounder at the Ulster Hall this Friday night against Miguel Corea from Nicaragua after getting confirmation of his May date and he's eager to put on a performance which will take him closer to his world title dream.
“I’ll be defending my title in Newcastle on May 3rd,” confirmed the MTK Global fighter.
“So at least it’s not too far away. I couldn’t take any risks as I could’ve got cut and been out of the fight in May,” he explained.
His opponent, Rodriguez lost to former British champion, Tommy Ward for the IBF European strap last year.
“I’m delighted to be back headlining a show again especially in a city like Newcastle so it’s a bit of an honour for me.”
"Rodriguez is a very good opponent. He’s a talented counter-puncher so hopefully he brings out the best in me but I’ve no doubt I’m going to retain my title on the night.
"I love the attention that being the main event brings. It gives you that extra bit of buzz. It’s all part of boxing and there are nerves but headlining shows is where you want to be.
And he’s hoping a win could lead to a WBO world title challenge later in the year against either current champion, Emanuel Navarrete or challenger, Isaac Dogboe who fight on May 11th.
"It's a defence of my title which will put me further up thge rnakings. I'm already 13 with WBO. If I successfully defend this it might put me in the top 10.
The week after Navarrete has his rematch with Dogboe. They're both with Top Rank who now work alongside MTK, so it's definitely something I can aim towards later this year.
"I'm feeling great. I only got news after my session this morning that the fight was off so my training was finished.
I was ready to rock but I will have to sit down with Danny. Maybe I will take the weekend off and get back to camp on Monday.
I'm already fit and the weight is down so I will have four or five weeks of just sparring and preparing for the fight in May.