Boxing

Murphy and Farrell to meet for Celtic title on Michael Conlan undercard

Colm Murphy and Ruadhan Farrell will do battle on the undercard of Michael Conlan versus Miguel Marriaga at the SSE Arena on August 6.
Andy Watters

COLM Kelly and Belfast rival Ruadhan Farrell will battle it out for the BUI Celtic featherweight title on the undercard of Michael Conlan-Miguel Marriaga at the SSE Arena on August 6.

After cutting their teeth on MHD Promotions' small hall shows, the Odyssey fight night is an opportunity for the city rivals to show their skills on the big stage in what is a trilogy fight.

They boxed twice as amateurs. Murphy won on a split decision in the County Antrim final and then hammered out a unanimous points win in the rematch. He expects Farrell to be “coming for revenge” when they lock horns for a third time.

“It's dream come true for us both,” said ‘Posh Boy'.

“We've both come up through the small hall shows so it's good and I feel we both deserve this chance. It's going to be a good fight and our stock will rise for taking it.”

Murphy was in action at the Europa Hotel last Saturday night. The all-action featherweight showed that he is developing as a thinking fighter when he out-pointed opponent Engel Gomez with a patient display that contrasted with his all-guns-blazing six-round war against Brayan Mairena a month earlier.

“It was good to get back out and get another six rounds under my belt,” said Murphy.

“I don't think it was my best performance but it was a clean performance. It wasn't a war, I didn't really get hit and my opponent did have a bit of a battered face afterwards. They can't all be wars, the last one was a real back-and-forth battle, I had to win every round and really push myself. So I know I have that in me and it can come out whenever it needs to.

“I boxed clever on Saturday night and I didn't give the guy an opportunity because I didn't get in his range.”

Europa Hotel results:

Vacant BUI Celtic middleweight title: Graham McCormack bt Dominic Donegan PTS

Featherweight: Colm Murphy bt Engel Gomez PTS

Super-welterweight: Owen O'Neill bt Justin Menzie PTS

Featherweight: Cian Doyle lost to Tatenda Mangombe PTS

Super-middleweight: Jamie Morrissey bt Seamus Devlin PTS

Middleweight: Daniel O'Sullivan bt Luke Middleton PTS

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AARON McKenna moved seamlessly to 15-0 with a clinical dismantling of Argentina's David Benitez in Coventry last Saturday night.

The Smithborough middleweight, still just 22, hopes to fight “two or three” more times this year and break into the top 15 global rankings.

“Benitez was a tricky guy, he knew what he was doing in trying to survive,” he said after becoming the first man to stop the Argentinian.

“It was a good experience and I'm just happy to get the stoppage. Going into this fight that's what I wanted to do – I wanted to be the first one to stop him.

“Once I got back to the corner after the first round I knew he was getting tired. As I was going on I was getting better so I knew it was going to come sooner rather than later and, thankfully, in the seventh I got him. I didn't want to rush it too much, go looking for it but once I started letting my hands go it became a lot easier. I knew he was getting tired, he couldn't handle the pace.”

McKenna will return to training this week to stay ready for his next fight. Dedicated and determined, he has his sights set on a battle with former sparring partner Jaime Mungia.

“I'll be back out whenever I get the opportunity,” he said.

“I'll go back to the gym and stay ready and whenever the fight comes I'll be ready – hopefully it will come very soon.”

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CELTIC and WBO European super-bantamweight champion Tyrone McCullagh called time on his boxing career at the weekend.

A year on from his shock comeback stoppage loss to journeyman Brett Fidoe, the Derry native decided that enough was enough and so he bowed out with a 14-2 record.

“As soon as I stepped out of that ring (after the Fidoe loss) a part of me knew that was it but it's took up until very recently to fully come to terms with it, and admit it to myself and others,” he said.

“Any time I stepped in the ring my main goal was to do my city and my country proud. This day last year, I couldn't have been further from that goal. So that coupled with a brain aneurysm and major inactivity, I've made the very tough decision to call it a day.

“When I first started boxing at the age of nine in the Ring club in Derry, all I ever wanted to do was win an Irish title. Here I am 22 years later and I've nine Irish titles, represented Ireland at every level, captained my country at senior level,

“I won a Celtic title as a professional, won a WBO European title, headlined my own shows and I've fought live on BT Sports and Sky Sports. I've achieved more than I ever could have dreamt of all those years ago. Boxing has given me the best moments of my life, I've travelled the world and met some friends for life through it but it's time to look at the bigger picture.”

Stylish and elusive, McCullagh was making steady progress until he ran into experienced Ryan Walsh at York Hall early in 2020. McCullagh got his shots off and then got on his bike and his hit-and-run tactics were effective until Walsh inevitably caught up with him and put him down twice before the finish.

The defeat knocked the stuffing out of the Derry man and the Covid-19 lockdown that came into effect a few weeks' later meant he couldn't get another fight to get the loss out of his system.

He returned against Fidoe but was unable to get going at all and, 12 months later, took the decision to hang up his gloves after thanking his coaches, his loyal sponsors and his friends and family.

“The biggest thanks goes to my family, friends and everyone else who has supported me from the start of my career until now,” he said.

“Spending your hard-earned money on tickets, flights and accommodation to watch me fight. There are no words to describe how much I've appreciated it. My biggest regret is that we were never allowed to have a professional show in Derry, I wanted this so badly to repay you all for your support.”

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