Marco McCullough

Preparation is everything for a fighter, we often hear of the meticulous plans and training camps that boxers undertake prior to stepping in to the ring.  Often this involves an eight week training camp of fitness regimes, sparring partners to match their opponents style and heavy dieting to make sure their weight is on course for the night.  So when fights get cancelled at late notice, it’s no surprise that boxers then lose focus and get frustrated.  For Marco McCullough (12-1-0) though, his preparations have been disrupted then put back on track in quick succession.
“I was meant to be fighting on a Spanish card last Thursday” McCullough tells us.  “The card got pulled, so my fight was off.  But now it’s been put back on a card in Germany this Thursday.”
So how does a fighter deal with these disruptions?  Well, I am speaking to Marco on the Monday evening, just four days before his fight.  “I’ll fly out to Germany Wednesday ready for the fight, that will be enough time.”  His opponent for the night is Zoltan Kovacs.  He has previously shared a ring with England’s own Mitchell Smith and took him the full ten round distance.
Kovacs will provide an interesting benchmark for McCullough to be gauged against.  Within the UK there are some interesting fights to be made in the featherweight division.  As well as McCullough and Smith there is also Josh Warrington based out of Leeds, as well as at the top of the tree a certain Lee Selby.  Are we likely to see any of the domestic competition in the ring any time soon?  “I’m promised Cyclone (Promotions) are looking to get me a big fight in September time, we shall see” McCullough says.
Thursday’s fight won’t be for the WBO European belt that McCullough is in possession of.  Holding that belt had helped move him up to fifth in their world rankings, which is within touching distance of their champion – Vasyl Lomachenko.  So does he fancy taking on the Ukranian two time Olympic gold medallist any time soon?  “I’m probably two years away from that fight – so he might not be around then!”
The sense of relief is palpable from Marco!  He can’t be blamed, Lomachenko is as well schooled as any fighter in the world at present and will provide a tough opponent to any fighter in the division.  It’s a refreshing honesty from McCullough.  He wants to defend his European title first – the fight he has been promised in September is likely to take place in Belfast or Scotland.
At only 25 McCullough is a fighter with time on his hands still and doesn’t need to rush to world level fights yet.  There is a sole loss on his record – a four rounds points loss to Dai Davies in only his second professional fight back in September 2011.  Is it a loss that he would look to avenge?  “We tried to get the rematch straight away but there was no interest from his side.  To be honest we have moved past that now, but we would have liked it at the time."
Marco McCullough
It isn’t Davies that McCullough rates as his hardest fight to date.  When asked about it, he sees two of his previous opponents as having caused him the most difficulty.  “Willie Casey definitely was a hard fight.  He’s short and comes forward and is really awkward.”  McCullough defeated Casey back in October 2013 in a 9th round stoppage.  “Marco Parlagi is the other one.  He caused me problems, but that was for the European title so that was huge for me and the first time I went the full ten rounds.”  It was an impressive victory over Parlagie, who came in to the fight with an unblemished 14 fight record.  After that fight McCullough then defeated former world title holder Dmitry Kirillov when the tough Russian was retired in the eighth round. 

All of these victories are building up an impressive head of steam for the man from Belfast.  He is now signed with another legendary Irishman, Barry Mcguigan and his Cyclone Promotions team.  How is that working for him?  “I don’t see them day-to-day, they are very busy with Carl (Frampton), but we speak once a week.  But they promised to get me six fights when I signed with them by the end of the year and we will soon be through five, so they have done what was asked of them so I am happy with that.”
Having Cyclone Promotions on board will give McCullough good exposure.  Frampton has recently made his US debut, so there could be the possibility that Marco is able to make waves stateside on an undercard.  In the meantime though, there is Thursday to get through.  If he can avoid the distractions that have littered his preparation and come out with the win, there is the promise of a big fight in September, possibly back home in Belfast.  What both the fans and Marco would love is for that to be against one of his domestic rivals.  Whether that happens remains to be seen, but it will be sure to be a scrap for his European belt – another two years and we may just see him on the world