Marc McCullough has a bright future in the ring, according to the man he wants to emulate – World title challenger Carl Frampton.
McCullough lifted the vacant WBO European featherweight title at the Waterfront Hall on Friday night after one of the best fights seen here for some time, when the Shankill Road man outpointed Martin Parlagi over 10 brutal rounds.
Slovakian Parlagi left McCullough's face a mess through a combination of his heavy handed blows and his dangerous use of the head, with both men hitting the canvas.
Fellow Belfast man Frampton believes McCullough has shown that he has the resolve for a bigger stage.
Frampton, who was commentating at ringside, said: "I thought Marc showed the toughness and the desire you need to go to the next level.
"There were moments early on in the fight when I was worried for him because he was clearly hurt at times but he sucked it up and after having them even after four rounds, I actually gave him the last six.
"Usually when a fighter gets caught with some heavy body shots early on, it still affects him for a while in the fight but he was able to brush them off and then produce some really good boxing.
"The fight I would love to see is him against British and Commonwealth champion Josh Warrington and he deserves it because he's the natural number one challenger for both of those titles. But I don't think the Warrington camp will want that fight.
"Marc is now one of the most exciting fighters around and the future is looking bright for him – and I expect Parlagi to come back strongly as well if he is given the chance."
McCullough, who needed seven stitches on a cut over his nose, is lined up for the supporting bill to Frampton's World title fight with IBF champion Kiko Martinez on September 6.
McCullough said: "I'm going on holiday and I'll enjoy it after that fight. I didn't think a fight could be that tough.
"For two rounds all I could see in front of me was white, I couldn't see him because he had caught me with the head a few times.
"I just had to keep going and I know that I'll be a much better fighter because of this fight."