Marc McCullough landed the vacant WBO European featherweight title at the Waterfront Hall last night after a barnstorming 10 rounds with Slovakian Martin Parlagi.
McCullough, bloodied and battered, had to come off the canvas to take a unanimous decision, 95-93 97-91 98-92, having dropped Parlagi in the second round.
Shankill Road man McCullough, watched at ringside by Northern Ireland hero Carl Frampton, was hurt midway through the first round as Parlagi unleashed a furious assault. McCullough then gathered himself and responded with two solid right hands.
McCullough was once again caught by a crisp right hand and the pace increased as they traded at close quarters before Parlagi was sent stumbling to the canvas by a short right hook.
Parlagi was enjoying the toe to toe exchanges, though the Belfast man seemed to edge the third as he made better use of his jab.
But the momentum swung the Slovakian's way in the fourth when after a blistering exchange of hooks, a left put McCullough on the canvas late in the round.
McCullough then suffered more trouble when a cut opened up on the bridge of his nose at the start of the fifth and Parlagi was then warned twice for his wayward head.
In the sixth, McCullough controlled the action with his jab, while the blood streamed from the bridge of his nose.
McCullough maintained his effective use of the jab at the start of the seventh but then got dragged to further close quarter exchanges which suited the Slovak.
Once again, Parlagi was warned for dangerous use of the head in the eighth, but McCullough largely controlled the three minutes with some composed boxing.
Parlagi showed his first sign of weakness in the ninth when tagged by a series of right hands. McCullough dominated the action from distance, winning the round clearly.
The last round proved to be as close as many of those that had gone before and Parlagi seemed to shade it but McCullough had clearly done enough to win his second professional title.
"I'm delighted," said McCullough.
"It was a tough fight and thankfully I came through it.
"The atmosphere in the Waterfront Hall was electric. It was great to hear the crowd get behind me and cheer me on.
"This is a real boost to my career and now I can hopefully go from strength to strength."
- Coalisland middleweight Conrad Cummings delighted his band of supporters when he clinically stopped Hungarian Lajos Munkacsi after just 55 seconds of the second round.
Cummings looked more measured in his assaults, working well to body and head with heavy blows.
The 23-year-old continued to walk the Magyar down and unloaded a thudding right which sent Munkacsi crashing to the canvas, leading referee Paul McCullagh to call a halt.