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Boxing

Marc McCullough after Ryan Walsh British title in Copperbox rumble

Marc McCullough takes on Ryan Walsh for the British featherweight crown on May 6
Andy Watters

MARC McCullough will fight British featherweight champion Ryan Walsh at London’s Copperbox Arena on May 6.

McCullough had been lined up to take on Josh Warrington but the Leeds man, who was at ringside at the recent Carl Frampton versus Leo Santa Cruz rematch in Las Vegas, confirmed that the fight had fallen through.

Warrington, the WBC International champion, would have been a step up for McCullough who has had two relatively quiet years and Norfolk-based Walsh is no less of a challenge.

‘Iron Ryan’ had little trouble stopping Belfast’s James Tennyson (also at the Copperbox) last year to win the British title and his rumble with McCullough would be the third defence of his Lonsdale belt.

“I was offered both (Warrington and Walsh) and Walsh is very good, it’ll be a hard fight and I’ll have to be at my best,” said McCullough.

“I think I can beat him or I wouldn’t fight him. These are the fights that I want to be involved in and it’s a great fight for me. I think he’s beatable.”

McCullough will have advantages in height and reach against the squat but capable Walsh and if he beats him he will be in good company.

Walsh’s only previous losses on his 24-2-1 card came against IBF featherweight king Lee Selby and Dane Dennis Ceylan in a rumble for the vacant EBU title back in October last year.

The draw on his card was against Belfast-based Scot Ronnie Clark.

“The ones that beat him were good ’uns,” said McCullough.

“He comes with a real good record. He’s a nice, tidy boxer but he’s small and I saw a couple of flaws in him, he struggled with a bit of height and reach against Ceylan and he’s the same sort of style as I would be.

“The plan would be to keep him at distance, my distance, and use my reach. When I signed for MGM they promised me big fights and said they’d get me straight up the British rankings.

“They’ve stuck to their word and it’s happening right away – it was great when I got the phonecall about the fight.”

Also on the Copperbox bill are Tyrone Nurse and Mitchell Smith versus George Jupp. Prior to that, McCullough will be in action at the Waterfront Hall on a bill that has been postponed by three weeks to March 10 because (according to promoter Frank Warren) headline act Jamie Conlan has a cold.

“I’m disappointed it was put back because you have everything planned and you’re making weight and you want to peak on the night so it puts everything back a wee bit,” he said.

“I’ve had to cut down on sparring and cut back on the training, so it messed everything up a bit. I’ll have to get another planning order and I’m a bit gutted because it would have fallen nicely for a bit of recovery before I started the camp for the Ryan Walsh fight.

“I’m going to be fighting and then back into camp because it’s eight weeks from that fight to Ryan Walsh. It’ll be up to my team to decide what way we’re going to work it.

“It’ll be a busy time but sure you’d rather have too many fights than not enough.”

 

UNFORTUNATELY it won’t change the result, but Lee Selby’s trainer Chris Sanigar had Carl Frampton beating Leo Santa Cruz in their Las Vegas rematch.

West County boxing doyen Sanigar says ‘the Jackal’ “made the fight” at the MGM Grand garden Arena on January 28. If he’d won, then Frampton and Selby would have been on collision course for a unification rumble in the summer. However, two of the judges gave Mexican Santa Cruz the win with the other calling it a draw.

Sanigar expects Frampton to bounce back from the disappointment.

“Every boxer is an individual, some learn from a loss, some don’t,” he said.

“In Vegas a lot of that fight was interpretation. I know not many people thought that Frampton won but he did make the fight, he was the heavier puncher, he was the champion.

“There were a lot of close rounds that they marked for Santa Cruz and not for Carl so I think it was a lot closer than some people think and, depending on where you were sat, you could have come to a different decision.

“Naturally I was biased, I like people who walk forward and make the fight and I thought Frampton did a lot better than those judges’ scores.”

Sanigar’s protégé Selby was due to fight on the undercard in Vegas. At the pre-fight press conference the Barry native had spoken of his rags-to-riches rise from small hall shows to the bright lights of ‘Sin City’. However, he didn’t get the chance to show off his skills after Argentine opponent Johnny Barros failed a medical and wasn’t allowed to fight.

“It was heart-rendering, heart-rendering,” said Sanigar.

“We were all over there for Carl and Lee to have great wins and sadly neither materialised but that’s boxing.

“He wants to get back to Vegas and that’s why we have to have a good performance on March the 4th. He has to go out and beat all three of these boys – Frampton, Santa Cruz and Mares. He wants these fights and he wants to be like Amir Khan; he wants to box everybody.”

 

ALFREDO Meli will headline the first Ginley Promotions show at the Devenish Complex in Belfast on March 3.

Middleweight Meli tops an impressive seven-fight card put together by new promoter Mark Ginley that also includes Anto Upton, Ciaran McVarnock, Tyrone McCullough and Dubliners Sean Turner, Stephen Ormond and Ian Timms.

Ginley – brother of up-and-coming Belfast trainer and former professional fighter Ray – managed Tyrone McKenna’s early career. But since the 6’1” welterweight southpaw signed for MGM, he has thrown his energy into promoting.

“I spoke to MGM and they were happy for their boys to appear on the show, they want to keep them busy,” he explained.

“It works out well for me because they’re all good fighters and good ticket-sellers and they’re very popular so it’s good for my first show.”

Manchester-based McVarnock (6-0-1) will have only his second fight in his native Belfast, while Upton (13-1) gets a first appearance in the city since 2013 when he fought Alex Bazza at the Holiday Inn.

“Obviously you have to learn your craft so it will take me a few shows to build but I would like to expand,” said Ginley.

“I’d like to go the way Cyclone have gone with Carl Frampton and then have fighters behind him like Conrad Cummings. I’ll be looking forward to doing things like that.”

Ginley hopes to establish a working relationship with England-based promoter Kieran Farrell.

“Hopefully his fighters could fight on my shows and then vice versa,” he said.

“He’ll want to keep his fighters busy and I’ll want to fill my shows so hopefully I can work with him but I’m open to working with everyone.

“Hopefully there’ll be loads of 50-50 fights on the cards. No-one wants to see the top of the bill fighting an eastern European binman, you need to progress and you want people to go away talking about the fights.”

For tickets - £35 (unreserved) and £65 (ringside with waiter service) - contact 07803799537.

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