Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

McCullough is happy to take risks on way to top

Tough challenge: Marc McCullough meets Andrei Isaeu on the undercard at the Odyssey next week
Tough challenge: Marc McCullough meets Andrei Isaeu on the undercard at the Odyssey next week

Carl Frampton is not only driving himself towards boxing's summit but also inspiring those coming up behind him, including exciting featherweight Marc McCullough who will be part of the multi-title show at the Odyssey Arena tomorrow week.

McCullough admits that as an amateur his dedication was not what it could have been but as a professional, under the guidance of experienced coach John Breen, he has found the focus needed to be a success.

The Shankill Road man enjoyed a major breakthrough when he knocked out former European champion and world title challenger Willie Casey at the Odyssey Arena in October, in only his ninth fight to land the vacant Irish featherweight crown. Since then his popularity has grown, he has signed a promotional deal with Cyclone Promotions and is in the mix for a shot at the British title.

McCullough returns to the ring for another tough test against Andrei Isaeu on the supporting bill to Frampton's WBC World title final eliminator with Mexican Hugo Cazarez at the Odyssey.

The 24-year-old will take on Isaeu for the vacant WBO European featherweight title and McCullough, who has taken two weeks off work from his maintenance job at pharmaceutical company Randox for this fight, said: "Beating Casey really made a difference to my career.

"Everybody knew that it was a risk, I was a novice going in against a seasoned fighter and a former European champion, but I knocked him out and now a lot more people are taking me seriously.

"I've just landed a great sponsorship deal with Randox Health which is a massive boost for my career and also have sponsorship from Gordon Watters Dental Lab who are making my gumshields and now, with Cyclone Promotions behind me, I believe I can really kick on.

"This Isaeu fight is another tough one and that's what I like – I'm happy to take risks because it really takes your career forward. Isaeu has been the distance with Rendall Munroe who went the distance in a World title fight so I've got to be on my game.

"Hopefully I can give another top performance, win the title and then Barry McGuigan is talking about me and Jamie Conlan topping a bill of our own in Belfast which would be great."

While coach Breen has played a key role in McCullough's development, the Irish champion also points to the input of mum Nicki when it comes to his diet – and his developing fan base.

McCullough added: "When I was an amateur I wasn't anywhere near as dedicated as I am now.

"My mum makes sure that I do everything right now and she also looks after the selling of my tickets and this time I couldn't get enough – they flew out the door.

"My mum knows that in order that I do the weight right I have to eat right, so my diet has been transformed. She's always going onto the web and getting recipes and taking notes about my diet and it's working.

"Any fighter finds it hard to make weight but when you have the right food it makes a difference. So, whatever she has on the table I eat – it's all good protein stuff, plenty of steak and fish.

"I have more energy than ever and I'm stronger than ever. So between that and the hard work I'm doing with John Breen and Eamonn Magee I'm in the best shape possible for my fight."

Meanwhile, Cyclone Promotions have confirmed that McCullough's friend and gym-mate Jamie Conlan (pictured) will face Belgium's Benjamin Smoes for the vacant WBO European super-flyweight title at the Odyssey.

Conlan's coach John Breen believes this is just the fight he needs at this stage of his career.

"Jamie has had a tough time, he has been frustrated with the lack of opportunities but now he has this title fight he can really take off. We can't underestimate this guy but I have always believed that Jamie has the potential to be a world champion."

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