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McCullough switches sights to Kovacs test

Marc McCullough (right)
Seconds Out with Andy Watters

MARC McCULLOUGH has had to switch targets quickly. He trained to fight a tiny southpaw in Spain, but on Thursday night he’ll take on tall orthodox Zoltan Kovacs in Bielefeld, Germany.

McCullough, the WBO World number four-ranked featherweight, was due to feature in the chief support bout to Spain’s Ruddy Encarnacion’s European (EBU) featherweight title challenge at the Palacio de Vistalegre in Madrid.

But that show was cancelled at the last minute due to promotional issues so the Shankill Road fighter who leaves for Germany tomorrow morning will have to adapt to a new opponent and a new venue.

The SSL Sport and Event Promotion show at the Sportpalast will be only his second test outside his native Belfast (the first was his debut in Craigavon four years ago) and possibly the toughest test of his 12-1 career.

However, it’s a test that coach John Breen expects McCullough – Irish and WBO European champion – to come through it unscathed.

“You have to be confident,” said Breen.

“The only problem is that this fight has been scheduled three or four times in different countries and fair play to the McGuigans for getting it sorted – it’s definitely happening this time.

“The first time we thought we were fighting a guy who was a 5”3’ southpaw and we did a bit of sparring for that.

“Then we got a 5”10’ orthodox so you have to grin and bear it. We were told last week that the fight was cancelled so the McGuigans did their utmost to get us on to another bill.”

He added: “Marc has fought away from home numerous times in kickboxing before he even started boxing so it should be no problem at all.”

His opponent Kovacs has lost to Irish fighters Daniel McShane and Phil Sutcliffe jr in the past but has improved since.

The Hungarian is unbeaten in his previous three outings and took London’s super-featherweight prospect Mitchell Smith the 10-round distance in November last year.

“Daniel McShane beat him in his third fight but they’re telling me he’s a 10 times better fighter now than he was then,” said Breen.

“Mitchell Smith beat him on points and Smith is one of these kids who is coming through – they think he’s gonna go to the top and Kovacs took him the distance. It’s a tough enough fight for Marc having been out for so long - the end of December was the last time he boxed but Marc is a good trainer and it has to be done.”

McCullough is being touted for a crack at major honours later this year. Cyclone Promotions have big plans for him should he successfully negotiate the tough Kovacs, with two championship fights planned for 'Marco' before the end of 2015.

“The way they are talking, there’ll still be plenty of bills here and Marc will be on them,” said Breen.

“But we’ll take one fight at a time – there’s no point worrying about what you’re going to do in six months’ time.

The show in Germany will also feature another Cyclone Promotions featherweight talent in Josh ‘The Punisher’ Pritchard.

The undefeated Pritchard (2-0) takes on former Carl Frampton victim Ignac Kassai in a four-round featherweight contest.

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