By Barry O’Donnell
THE plush surrounds of the Europa Hotel in Belfast will provide the setting for the third professional fight of Tyrone McCullagh, who as his first name suggests, has very strong local connections.
The 25-year old super-bantamweight, whose ring moniker is ‘White Chocolate’, hails from Derry, but he will be cheered on by a sizeable contingent of relatives from Omagh as he faces a dangerous Latvian on the MHD Promotions card on Saturday February 6th. Tyrone explains his strong family links with the County.
“ My granddad Vincie McCullagh is from Omagh and just recently we celebrated his 95th birthday while I also have loads of cousins from around the town. My dad Vin he comes from Plumbridge so there’s plenty of interest around there in how I’m doing in my career. I do like to get up and visit as often as I can.”
Training out of the acclaimed Holy Family Golden Gloves gym in North Belfast (home base of double Olympic medallist Paddy Barnes among others), under the expert tutelage of Gerry Storey, Tyrone says he divides his time between cities.
“ From Monday till Friday I train at Holy Family and then over the weekends when I come back home to Derry I have sessions at Innishowen ABC in Donegal. Obviously it’s pretty intensive right now with this fight in the pipeline.”
Having enjoyed a decorated amateur career (Irish Senior champion in 2010 and European bronze medalist), McCullagh has impressed so far in the paid ranks in his two 4×4 minute round bouts. He recorded successive second round stoppages against Latvian opposition in the second half of last year, first in Liverpool and then in London.
He is looking forward to boxing on home soil as a pro for the first time in his career.
“ It should be a great night and I’m really looking forward to it. They are expecting a crowd of around 800 so it should be jam-packed and I know plenty are arranging to come up from Derry and Omagh to support me.
“ I know this will be my toughest fight to date as the Latvian boy has recorded two knockouts recently so I will have to be on my guard,” added southpaw Tyrone who is managed by Steve Goodwin.
The feature contest on the exciting looking Europa Bill, entitled Elimination’, will be the British Super-Featherweight eliminator between Belfast’s James Fryers and Maxi Hughes, from Yorkshire. Coalisland prospect Fergal McCrory, with one victory on his ledger after his sole outing to date, will also be appearing on the undercard.