Barry McGuigan opening up new era of opportunity
For too many years Northern Ireland boxers have found themselves walking into roadblocks and suffering from careers rotting on broken promises. Barry McGuigan says he is going to change that.
McGuigan's Cyclone Promotions have agreed a multi-fight deal with the Waterfront Hall, starting on June 20 when Marc McCullough headlines against unbeaten Martin Parlagi in a vacant WBO European featherweight title fight.
McCullough and unbeaten Jamie Conlan – who will defend his WBO European super-flyweight title on the same show – are the next two men McGuigan wants to see following in the footsteps of Northern Ireland hero Carl Frampton.
The former World champion, along with sons Blaine and Jake, maintain they are in for the long haul in order to open up the kind of opportunities that have allowed the likes of German and English fighters to progress up the domestic and world ladders.
McGuigan said: "The plan is to have regular shows at the Waterfront Hall. The last time it was used was 14 years ago when Eamonn Magee fought Shea Neary – it's a great venue for boxing.
"Ultimately, kids have their careers destroyed by a lack of opportunity. There's no point having a fight and then not boxing again for 15 months.
"I've made a commitment to these guys, we're going to have regular shows and make them champions. Things are going to change here.
"We already have a WBO European title for Jamie, who is number 11 in the WBO, and all being well Marc will fight on June 20 and he will have his European belt and that will put him into the top 15 in the world.
"Jamie Conlan should have had his British title fight by now but he had long gaps between fights. Now he is number one in the UK and the British Boxing Board of Control are aware that we expect Jamie to fight for the super-flyweight title when it becomes vacant – whenever Paul Butler vacates, which we expect him to."
"We have a long term view of boxing here because this is one of the best fight cities in the world and I know that when we deliver exciting fights, the public will come out to support us. Marc and Jamie have already built up a good fan base and our middleweight Conrad Cummings is developing a very strong fan base as well.
"There is such a great wealth of boxing talent in Belfast and we want to give the guys the chances they deserve and as best we can we will bring the big fights to Belfast.
"In boxing you need to have a plan going forward and you need regular fights and that is our plan and I like the fact that Marc and Jamie are prepared to step up and take risky fights.
"Too many guys out there are too cautious but to move on you have to take chances. Not all the top British featherweights would have taken this fight."
Manager John Breen confirmed McCullough's self-belief when explaining just how quickly he accepted the Parlagi fight.
"I sent Marc a text telling him about the fight and to take a look at the guy and see what he thinks. About 28 seconds later the text came back with 'NP' on it... no problem," said Breen.
McGuigan added: "This is a cracking fight between Marc McCullough and Parlagi. It's a tough fight for Marc but we are so confident in him that we believe he can really move on.
"We have already offered Josh Warrington, the Commonwealth champion, the fight with Marc and he didn't want it. Warrington is fighting Martin Lindsay next and down the line a fight between Martin and Marc McCullough is a great fight but he has to deal with Parlagi and his people are convinced that he will beat Marc."