Tyrone MccCullagh hoping his prayers are answered

Tyrone McCullough will take on Elvis Guillen at the SSE Arena on April 21
Andy Watters

EAT, sleep, train, repeat... That is the monotonous pattern of Tyrone MccCullagh’s life these days after he swapped Derry’s home comforts for solitary confinement in Liverpool.

The unbeaten featherweight admits he is so bored he looks forward to getting out to training but he is driven on by dreams of title glory as he warms up for a Celtic featherweight shot against Scotland’s Joe Ham this summer.

Stylish southpaw McCullough, AKA White Chocolate, takes on durable Nicaraguan Elvis Guillen on the undercard of Frampton-Donaire on April 21. He is determined to show his fitness and class against the experienced journeyman.

“It’s been a very tough camp but very beneficial as well and I think I’m in the best shape of my life to be honest,” said the MTK fighter yesterday.

“I’m living like a monk, but I don’t have a choice.

“I’m staying a hotel – it does the job but it’s very, very basic. My coach gets me my meals and I bought a microwave so that’s what I do – I go training twice a day and I’m stuck in this room the rest of the hours.

“But it’s what I need, I’m away from all the distractions and it’s definitely benefitting me. You miss the luxuries back home but it has to be done; it’s part of boxing.”

He admits: “It’s tough putting the time in.

“The first two weeks I was here I forgot my tablet and I only had Freeview in the hotel – I was watching the same episodes of Friends and Brooklyn Nine-Nine twice a day and I was thinking ‘this is no good’. You be that bored you’re looking forward to training to get out of the room.

“I had a bit of down time at the weekend and I was thinking ‘I can’t wait until Monday to get training again’. I suppose that’s a good thing.”

McCullagh, now trained by Derry Matthews, hasn’t fought since December when he stopped German Tom Tran at the Devenish Complex in west Belfast. A hand injury took time to heal, but he is confident there’ll be no problems come April 21.

“I’ll be able to manage it for this show coming up,” he says confidently.

“Most boxers have to deal with things like this, it’s just something I’ll have to put with – it won’t stop me from fighting or stop me from punching.”

His opponent Guillen (9-36-4) is a genuine journeyman. But he has gone the distance with the likes of Ryan Farrag, Isaac Lowe, Stuart Hall and British super-bantamweight champion Thomas P Ward.

“I’ve had a look at his record and I know boxing can change with one punch but I should be dealing with these guys handy enough,” said McCullagh.

“Ideally I probably should be coming to the end of fighting these guys, but I haven’t been out for a while and it’s a nice warm-up fight because I’ve got Joe Ham for a Celtic title and a British title eliminator so this will get the rust off because I haven’t been out in a while.

“The Hamm fight has to be made before the end of July so I’ll be out against them.”

He added: “Guillen has been in with some big names and he’s gone the distance so he’s a tough lad.

“I’d like to get him out of there, but it’s not the main objective. The longest I’ve gone is five rounds and the Ham fight will be 10, so I would like to get the rounds in.”

McCullagh has fought at London’s York Hall and at the SSE Arena in Belfast on the undercard of Ryan Burnett versus Lee Haskins. He admits he has never been to a Carl Frampton fight before and is looking forward to featuring on the Jackal’s undercard.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” he said.

“I was supposed to go to the last Frampton fight but it was two weeks before my own fight and I was too deep into camp to go up to Belfast and by tempted to eat all round me so I just sat in the house.

“The atmosphere looks incredible so I’m looking forward to experiencing all that and fighting on the bill will be terrific.”

UNDEFEATED British lightweight title hopeful Paul Hyland jnr (17-0) tops the bill at the Europa Hotel on Saturday night when he takes on Portsmouth’s David Birmingham (6-1).

Hyland had originally been scheduled to meet Floyd Moore but a career-ending medical issue has forced Moore to pull out meaning Portsmouth’s Birmingham – who had been in training anyway – has stepped in.

“Paul was deep in camp putting in the finishing touches to his preparation for the Moore fight,” explained manager Mark Dunlop.

“Then we got the news that he had felt unwell after a spar with Lee Selby and was taken to hospital where, after undergoing brain scans, he was forced to retire from, not only the Belfast fight, but his boxing career. I wish him all the best for the future.”

Birmingham, Hyland’s new opponent, is a former professional footballer. He made his debut for ‘Pompey’ in 2000, but has since swapped his boots for gloves and his volume-punching all-action style earned him a shot at the Southern Area Lightweight Title last July. He lost that fight but has bounced back with a win over durable journeyman Antonio Horvatic.

“This has been a crazy few weeks for me,” said Hyland.

“But I’m a professional and I’ve stayed focused. I’m absolutely gutted for Floyd Moore because I know how much this opportunity meant to him but with time he will have a full recovery with many great memories from the sport.”

Mark Dunlop added: “The news this week has been devastating for all concerned.

“I would like to thank Paul McLean (A McLean Bookmakers) and Eddie Hearn (Matchroom Boxing) who have stepped in to save the show, but a special mention must be for David Birmingham who has risen to the challenge at short notice.”

The undercard will see the return of Dublin lightweight Jay Byrne who takes on Belfast’s strong James Gorman along with the talented Vladimir Belujsky from Cork via Slovakia in an intriguing duel with Iain Jackson of London.

Tickets: £75 (VIP, including four-course meal), £45 (reserved ringside), £35 (unreserved), tel. 07712473905 or email

JAMES DeGale regained his IBF world super-middleweight title with a unanimous points victory over Caleb Truax in Las Vegas.

The 32-year-old suffered a shock points defeat to American Truax at London's Copper Box Arena last December and was again taken the distance in a battling display at the Hard Rock Hotel.

The Londoner, about 5lbs lighter than Truax, showed much better movement than four months ago, but still found himself on the ropes early on after taking a blow from Truax's right hand.

A clash of heads in the third round saw DeGale draw blood near his right eye and left him struggling to mount any counter-attack to Truax's come-forward approach.

By round eight, Truax had suffered a cut of his own above his left eye and both men tried to get their jabs going, DeGale often finding his mark.

Truax continued to apply the pressure and things looked to be going against DeGale when he was deducted a point in round 10 for using his shoulder.

It did not hold him back in round 11, though, and DeGale produced his most effective shots, landing a three-punch combination to leave Truax unsteady and with too much to do going into the final round.

The 2008 Olympic champion, whose loss last year was the second of his professional career, edged the win, with the judges scoring it 117-110, 114-113 and 114-113 in his favour.

Speaking after the bout, he said: "Full credit to Caleb Truax, he's tough and he's game, but when I'm fit and injury free people will find it hard to beat me.

"I've got my title back, I'm a proud IBF champion and I'm back."

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