Boxing

Marco McCullough prepared for war against one-time friend Declan Geraghty

Marco McCullough takes on Declan Geraghty at The Ulster Hall on May 17
Andy Watters

MARCO McCullough was friendly with Declan Geraghty on amateur boxing trips, so the Dubliner’s alleged trash-talking ahead of their IBF super-featherweight meeting on May 17 has come as a surprise to him.

The cross border battle takes place on the undercard of Ryan Burnett’s WBC International super-bantamweight rumble with Jelbirt Gomera at the Ulster Hall and McCullough is determined to reproduce the form that saw him win the IBO International Super Featherweight title in late 2018.

He will have a fight on his hands. Geraghty has fought for this belt before – he lost a grudge match against fellow Dub Jono Carroll in June last year – and at his best, ‘Pretty Boy’ is a slick mover and stylish back-foot boxer. McCullough will need to be in good shape to cut the ring off and keep the pressure on him.

“It’ll be a good fight and he’ll come to win,” McCullough predicted.

“We know he’s a good runner and that’s what we don’t want. If he runs from the start I’ll have to chase him and he could run for 12 rounds and be hard to catch.

“I might just jump on him and after a couple of rounds he’ll stand and want to have a fight and then I’ll catch him. But he is tricky.”

McCullough and Geraghty have never sparred each other but they do spend a lot of time together during their days on Irish amateur squads and they roomed on overseas trips.

“I don’t understand the trash-talking because we always got on and now he’s saying he’s going to knock me out,” said a puzzled McCullough.

“He was ringside when I fought Ruddy Encarnacion and he said after it that he’d knock me out in six rounds and that I can’t punch.

“I haven’t got involved in any of that, it’s not me and I couldn’t be annoyed with it. I dunno, he was trying to talk his way into the fight but it’s nothing personal and it has worked for him because he has talked his way into it. To be honest I had no interest in fighting him because Encarnacion was mandatory for the EBU title and so I was hoping to take his place after I beat him and push on.

“It never worked out that way but the IBF European belt got Jono Carroll a shot at the world title (held by Tevin Farmer) so it would push me into the top 15 and that would be great.”

McCullough fought as a professional in The Ulster Hall back in 2012. He was on the undercard that night but he remembers nights when the famous joint was jumping back in his amateur days.

“I remember getting beat by Ryan Lindberg in the Ulster seniors there and the place was packed,” he recalled.

“It was crazy that night, it was brilliant. Lindberg beat me and beat (Carl) Frampton as well that year. He was on fire at the time.”

Bill-topper Burnett has vowed to get his world title back as he makes a return to action after an injury lay-off on the May 17 bill.

“I want to be world champion again,” said Burnett.

“Nothing else matters. This is a significant step in that campaign and I’m delighted it’s taking place in my home city.”

Coach Adam Booth added: “His hunger and desire are greater than ever before so there’s no doubt he can head back to the top. Enjoy the ride.”

Meanwhile, Anthony Cacace is to challenge Sam Bowen for his British Super-Featherweight title. Purse bids are due on May 8.

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