Tyrone McCullough takes Celtic title and Carroll and Geragthy go to war in Belfast fight night
Celtic Super-bantamweight title: Tyrone McCullough bt Joe Ham pts
TYRONE McCullough is hoping to headline a show in his native Derry in the future after he captured the Celtic title with a gutsy and skilful display of boxing against game Glaswegian Joe Ham.
The Scot offered very little in the first two rounds but the fight came to life in the third and McCullough walked on to a left hook late in the round that left him on the seat of his pants.
But ‘White Chocolate' recovered well in the scrappy fourth and started to take control when he switched the attack to Ham's body in the fifth.
He dominated the remainder of the fight, staying on the outside and picking his shots or darting in and hammering Ham's body and the judges scored it 97-92, 98-92 and 98-92 in his favour.
“It (the knockdown) took a bit of the shine off it,” said the Derry man, who got a terrific reception from traveling fans when he walked to the ring with Republic of Ireland star James McClean and world title hopeful Paddy Barnes.
“Maybe I'm being harsh on myself, but I beat an undefeated fighter so I'm delighted.
“Apart from the knockdown I don't think he won any other round but I know I have a lot more to give and it was my first fight on TV and my first title fight, so there was a lot of nerves and a lot of pressure and I'll be delighted tomorrow.”
He added: “I can't thank the Derry fans enough who came down to support me – the noise was unbelievable. Credit to the Belfast fans too because they made a bit of noise for me and it was an unreal experience walking out with James and Paddy. I'll never forget it.
“I wanted to know if I had it in the bag and when I did then I started to relax and that's when I had a smile on my face and I started to show some of my true colours.
“I'm just disappointed the droppage happened, but it's a learning experience.”
Very relevant issues relating to the proximity of a neurological unit have ruled out professional boxing in Derry, but McCullagh revealed a solution to that problem could be found.
“I'd love to fight in Derry – it would be a dream come true,” he said.
“There's a few obstacles there with there being no neurological clinic there but it looks like there's ways round that. Maybe in the near future I'll be headlining a show in Derry?"
IBF Inter-Continental Super-bantamweight championship: Jono Carroll bt Declan Geraghty TKO 9
THIS grudge match was rip-roaring from start to finish and Carroll's incessant pressure and workrate broke down his bitter Dublin rival who chose to forget his boxing skills and unwisely met him head-on in the centre of the ring.
Geraghty's sweet skills won him the first round. He landed a double jab and then a booming straight left from miles away that sent Carroll into the ropes and left him marked over his right eye.
At distance there would only be one winner, but Carroll closed it and roughed Geraghty up. It was a war and the rivals exchanged unpleasantries as the second ended and the third was a toe-to-toe classic that saw the fight swing Carroll's way after Geraghty's gloves touched the canvas as he was hammered him to the body and head.
The crowd were on their feet at the end of the stanza and Carroll continued to dominate, cutting off the ring an unloading withering salvos as Geragthy's feet became static and his punch output dwindled.
At the start of the fifth, Carroll stood grinning through his black pirate's beard and beckoned Geragthy to join him for the renewal of hostilities. He did and he was able to live with his power but not his pressure and there was no evidence of a gameplan to turn the fight in his favour.
Geraghty was dumped on his backside and the referee moved in to stop it with nothing coming back from him.
WBO Inter-Continental Super Lightweight Championship: Jack Catterall bt Tyrone McKenna pts
BELFAST southpaw McKenna proved beyond doubt that he is a mighty Celt with a courageous display against defending champion Catterall.
McKenna was down three times in the fight – twice in the second and also in the fifth – but he rallied impressively and gave the inconsistent Catterall some nervous moments down the stretch although the Englishman took a unanimous decision 95-91, 94-93, 94-93 on the three judges' scorecards.
McKenna, the underdog on home soil, had said that he wanted to show off his boxing skills and he snapped out the jab, doubling it up as Catterall came forward in the first. The Englishman was in his face throughout the round but McKenna kept his chin tucked in behind his right shoulder and stuck to his gameplan.
A body shot had McKenna down in the second and Catterall was docked a point for hitting him on the floor. McKenna took another eight count right on the bell but regained composure in the third before Catterall looked close to a stoppage win when McKenna was put down, again from a bodyshot, midway through the fifth.
McKenna was cut over his right eye and took a battering on the ropes but he showed his fighting heart and invited Catterall to come at him and the raucous crowd at an atmospheric SSE Arena roared their support.
A chorus of ‘Ole, ole, ole' rang around the venue and the sixth and seventh were good rounds for McKenna who landed thumping right hooks as Catterall backpedaled. McKenna kept the pressure on right to the end and, although Catterall got the decision, his performance will have done his reputation and his profile no harm at all.
Lewis Crocker bt Adam Grabiec TKO1
POLE Grabiec had only been stopped five times before Saturday night and Lewis Crocker made it six in typically emphatic fashion.
Crocker's reputation goes before him now and after a nervous start Grabiec was left in a crumpled heap a minute and 19 seconds into the first by a wicked left hook to the body. He was gingerly back up at eight, but referee Hugh Russell jnr waved it off. Crocker moves to 6-0, all stoppages.
“There was no nerves and I can't wait to get back in there,” he said after barely breaking sweat.
“It's an early night's work and I'll take it!
“I'd love to be on Windsor Park, I haven't heard anything yet, but I'm available.”
Coach Ray Ginley, who had expected a tougher test for his man, added: “You see him maturing every night and he has such an exciting future ahead of him. You wonder if there's anyone who's going to be able to take that power?
“That was supposed to be a step up, a bit of a test and he just dispatched him. He has the best management team in the business and they'll get the opportunities for him. We'll just keep showing up and doing the business.”
Johnny Coyle bt Lewis Benson pts 96-95
BRAWLER Coyle's in-your-face style earned him the decision in an all-action tear-up with Edinburgh's Benson.
The Scot started well and kept his jab in Coyle's face, but southpaw Coyle was able to get inside and unload with straight left hands and booming right hooks and he landed the meaningful shots in several of the close rounds.
Gary Corcoran bt Victor Ray Ankrah TKO5
CORCORAN was supposed to meet injured Paddy Gallagher and had much less trouble seeing of Ghana native Ankrah.
Padraig McCrory bt Harry Matthews pts 39-37
McCRORY moved to 4-0 with Yorkshire journeyman Matthews who in there but was outclassed over four rounds.
Taylor McGoldrick bt Casey Blair pts 38-36
FORMER Holy Trinity fighter McGoldrick was pushed all the way by game journeyman Blair, but he got the nod from the judges to move to 2-0.