McCullagh needs a real test after cruising to victory
WBO European champion Tyrone McCullagh cruised to a comfortable victory over Spaniard Alvaro Rodriguez in Newcastle over 10 lacklustre rounds.
Super-bantamweight McCullagh didn't have to move out of second gear against an opponent who didn't look anywhere near European class, and the Derry man just picked him off from start to finish.
All three judges gave the fight to McCullagh, 98-92, 98-92 and 96-94 - the third official clearly watching a different fight to everyone else in the arena.
McCullough clearly needs a significant step up in class after this victory as he is well beyond the level of Rodriguez.
McCullagh said: "I thought that was a very average performance. I had problems with blisters on my feet and from the fifth round onwards my feet were killing me. I couldn't get my feet going, in and out - it was a below-par performance but I got the win and that's the main thing.
"Hopefully this win might get me into the top 10 in the WBO. I know the world champion is fighting Isaac Dogboe next weekend so I'll be keeping an eye on that. I'd love to fight for that title at some stage."
Another man McCullagh has his sights on is former IBF champion TJ Doheny of Portlaoise, who lost his belt last weekend at the hands of WBA title holder Daniel Roman.
"I think a fight between me and TJ is a natural all-Irish fight. I'd love that fight - that would be a great one for Derry," said McCullagh.
Southpaw McCullagh promised to go on the front foot against Rodriguez, who carried his hands low and looked to counter, and the title holder did just that in the opening three minutes. While he got tagged with a couple of right hands, he nevertheless speared home his straight lefts.
Rodriguez got through with another right hand but there was no power to threaten McCullagh, who measured the Spaniard up for a whipping uppercut and further straight shots to keep the challenger at bay.
Many of the subsequent rounds became rather scrappy, with McCullagh still the one doing any significant work.
By the halfway stage Rodriguez was a beaten man and it was just a case of McCullagh easing to victory over the final stages.
McCullagh peppered the challenger with single lefts and rights in the final two rounds to complete the victory.
He will hope to be out again in the summer with the possibility of a slot on the undercard to Belfast man Michael Conlan, who is pencilled in to headline at the West Belfast festival in August.
"I think a spot on Mick's card is the plan and that would be great. I'm hoping for a good test that will push me forward," said McCullagh. "I know the better the opponent the better I will fight and I believe now that I have good momentum in my career and I want to have big fights."
Meanwhile, in the early hours of tomorrow morning in Las Vegas, Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez meets Daniel Jacobs in a mouth-watering middleweight battle.
Canelo will start as favourite but Jacobs has the class and grit to make it a tough night for the IBF/WBA/WBC middleweight champion with the fight likely to go the distance.