By Nathan Orr
The attention, media and spotlight may be firmly on Carl Frampton ahead of his Sep 6 world title clash against Kiko Martinez, but on the undercard, his stable-mate Marc McCullough 10-1 (6 KOs) will have just as much of a daunting task as he faces off against former world champion Dmitry Kirillov 31-4-1 (10 KOs)
Little over a month ago, McGuigan showed faith in the Shankill featherweight by providing him with a headline opportunity at the Waterfront Hall, Belfast. Despite getting past Martin Parlagi in the toughest test of his career, McCullough answered many questions, displaying true heart and determination to get off the canvas for the first time in his career. On that night, McCullough grasped the WBO European featherweight title, allowing him to rise up the echelons of the WBO organisation, to the number 12 spot. With the title in hand, McGuigan now sees bigger and better things on the horizon for young McCullough.
In entering his twelfth fight, the 24 year old has fought and overcome several opponents who have been far superior in terms of experience. McCullough will hope that the latest victim is Kirillov, a former Super-Flyweight world champion whose reign was brought to a sudden halt by Vic Darchinyan in 2008. In securing a date with the Russian, McCullough has the opportunity to add another name to his growing resume, which already includes the likes of world title challenger Willie Casey.
Despite Kirillov only recently coming off a five year absence from the sport, McGuigan remains confident that the 35 year old could be the opponent that propels McCullough into challenging for major titles.
“Last time out Marc had an amazing fight with Martin Parlagi, which was a real acid test. This guy Kirillov is a former world champion, he’s very experienced and it’s going to be another great test. This is the kind of fight that will get him noticed on the world scene, this guy is well known because he has fought at such a high level, a much higher level than Marc has before.
“It’s a bit like the way Carl had to come through against fights with Raul Hirales and Steve Molitor before facing Kiko in their European title fight. Marc now has this opportunity to show people that he can be the real deal,” stated McGuigan when speaking to Sunday life.