By Shaun Brown
Marco McCullough’s career intentions were quite clear when Boxing Scene interviewed the featherweight prospect ahead of his eleventh fight against Martin Parlagi 14-0 (8) for the vacant WBO European 126lb belt tonight in Belfast.
McCullough 9-1 (6) is part of a buzzing boxing community in Northern Ireland with Carl Frampton leading the way with a world title charge ably supported by the likes of McCullough, Jamie Conlan, Stephen Ormond, Eamonn O’Kane and Conrad Cummings.
Whilst the 24-year-old McCullough is wary of not having the rounds or experience of someone like the British and Commonwealth champion, Josh Warrington, that doesn’t mean that the Leeds man isn’t in the Northern Irishman’s sights. And by this time next year he fully expects to have his titles.
“I’m hoping to get that in the next fight or two, six months to a year and then on to the European title,” revealed a confident McCullough.
“To be honest I think someone like [Lee] Selby is going on to fight for a world title, I think he’s a level above everyone else at the moment and no-one can keep up with him. Then there’s the likes of Josh Warrington and me. I think it’d be a good fight for me. He’s got a great engine, he’s got experience but it’s a fight I want. It’d be a good test for me.”
In the meantime all attention is on Fri night’s contest against Parlagi. The unbeaten former Czech Republic lightweight champion is something of an unknown quantity for McCullough but his undamaged record and emphasis on winning early means he has his opponent’s full attention.
“I’ve only seen one round of one of his fights on YouTube and one round of sparring and one round on the pads so it’s not much to go by. He seems to be a pressure fighter, he seems to come forward and with his record he seems to have a bit of power. I’m expecting a bit of a fight to be honest, he seems to get them out there early so I’m expecting him to come at me in the first couple of rounds with me taking over later on in the fight.”
A win against Parlagi would not only reward McCulough with his second professional title (after winning the Irish Featherweight title in 2013) but also a top 15 ranking with the WBO. And despite the buzz around boxing in Northern Ireland, the man from Shankill would have no hesitation in packing up this things and moving to America if that’s where he had to go to get the big fights.
“That’s the aim obviously, to get in the top 15 and who knows what can happen after that. You could become a mandatory challenger before you know it. That’s the aim. I wouldn’t have turned pro if I wasn’t aiming for the skies. Its big fights I want, so if I win this I’m in the top 15 so who knows where I can go from there. If America is where I have to go for big fights then that’s where I have to go. I’ll leave it to my management to sort fights and stuff. Who knows? Every fight is step by step. I’m still learning and if I make stupid mistakes in the gym I’m still getting shouted at by (trainer) John Breen!”
Whatever happens in the future, McCullough remains thankful to Carl Frampton for bringing the good times back to boxing in his country and is thrilled to be a part of shows that get bigger and bigger every time.
“Belfast is a big boxing city but they haven’t had someone to support in a long time and Carl’s came along at the right time so there’s a buzz about Belfast and Northern Ireland again. Now things have took off and we’re hanging on to his t-shirt. It’s exciting and we wish all the best for Carl because he’s bringing the big shows and support and it helps us in a way to be honest. If it wasn’t for him we wouldn’t be on the big shows because there’d be no-one else. Carl’s created this big hype which is helping all the professionals over here and I’m just glad we’re around at the right time.”
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