The ‘Three Amigos’ may have been the centre of attention ahead of last weekend’s big fight bill at the SSE Odyssey Arena, but there was plenty of hometown talent on display as seven of MTK Global’s ‘Belfast Boys’ were in action in total.
Victories for Carl Frampton and Paddy Barnes made headlines – as did Jamie Conlan’s heroic world-title defeat – but the ‘Frampton Reborn’ card also saw Marco McCullough, Tommy McCarthy, Steven Ward and Lewis Crocker emerge victorious on home soil.
Former Irish featherweight champion McCullough (now 18-4) got back to winning ways following his British title loss to Ryan Walsh last May, claiming an impressive third-round stoppage win over Tamworth’s Josh Baillie (now 5-4).
“I am just glad to get back out again. I took the last couple of months out and I just want get back into things now,” explained McCullough after his win, with the 27-year-old now hoping to get back into title contention.
“I hope [to win domestic titles], I don’t see why not,” he said. “It might take a while, but I think I can get a few wins and build myself back up and maybe get a shot next year.”
Heavy-handed welterweight Lewis Crocker was another Belfast banger to record a knockout victory, with the 20-year-old 4-0 prospect halting novice Hungarian journeyman Gyula Rozsas.
“Once them wee gloves go on in the training room, I get excited,” said Crocker on his much-vaunted power. “There is a big difference from the amateur gloves and when I land, no welterweight in the country is going to stand up to that."
“It’s great - four fights, four wins, four knockouts, you can’t get better than that. I have a great team and it’s a good performance to build on. I will forget the diet over Christmas and I’ll get back at it after then. More fights and get more experience, work my way up, get a good winning record and then hopefully push for titles,” added the Ray Ginley-trained prospect.
Cruiserweight Tommy McCarthy was aiming for back-to-back stoppage wins as he fought for the second time in the space of four weeks following nearly a year’s absence from the ring, but the Lenadoon native had to settle for a points win over the rugged Cameroonian Blaise Mendouo.
The six-rounder was a welcome chance for the 27-year-old (11-1) to shake off some linger ring rust, however.
McCarthy said: “I wanted to stop him because the only person to stop him before was [London heavyweight] Daniel Dubois and I wanted to be the first cruiserweight to stop him and make a statement, but I was prepared for a tough six rounds."
“He soaked up the punishment and kept trying, but it was good for me because it’s different when you’re sparring in the ring to when you’re fighting. I fought a few weeks on the [Ryan] Burnett show, but it only lasted one round. It was good to shake off the cobwebs this time, I enjoyed it.”
Meanwhile, Steven Ward cruised to 6-0 as he also claimed a six-round points victory, defeating Poland’s Przemyslaw Binienda.
‘The Quiet Man’ had a vocal support at the Odyssey and he hopes to push on to eight-rounders in the new year.
“It was good to get six rounds, I never felt in any bother,” said Ward. “He was game, I was winning every round comfortably but he was coming at me and it was good to get a competitive match-up and someone who was able to stay in there for the six rounds."
“I’d love to move up eight rounds straight away and obviously when I do I can get into contention for titles and things like that. Hopefully my next outing, all being well, will be an eight-rounder,” added Ward, who has been training alongside Frampton and Conrad Cummings near Manchester.