McCullagh promises to go on the front foot
Tyrone McCullagh says he will bring a new dimension to his game when facing 33-year-old Alvaro Rodriguez in Newcastle tonight.
The unbeaten Derry fighter is known for his sharp defensive skills, enjoying nothing more than drawing an opponent on and making him pay with his swift counter punches, often delivered from varying angles.
But as he prepares for his 10-rounder with Spanish champion Rodriguez, super-bantamweight McCullagh is eager to show he can offer more than his natural counter-punching.
"I don't expect this guy to be coming forward, so I will probably have to adapt my natural style but that won't be a problem because that is something that I have been working on in the gym with my coach Danny Vaughan," he said.
"He feels that I have my natural boxing style which I can always rely on but he has been working on me being able to take the fight to an opponent," said McCullagh who will be defending his WBO European super-bantam title - not to be confused with the EBU European belt.
"It's important that I have that ability to go forward as well so I've been settling down a bit more and not using up as much energy. I've been pleasantly surprised how I have adapted because I thought it was going to be harder but over the past few weeks it has gone well and I've had some very good sparring.
"We have a new guy in the gym from Pakistan who fought for a world title in his eighth fight and Lee McGregor is here as well so that has been great for me.
"We have a small ring in the gym so it makes you have to use your upper body movement more than just your footwork because one step back and you feel you're up against the ropes.
"I'm hoping to go out and make a statement, put on a good show and push up the WBO's world rankings.
"I'm ranked at number 13 at the moment and I think I could push up into the top 10."
McCullagh has enjoyed good progress over the past 12 months and is keen to gain more experience at a higher level.
"This could be a very good year for me. I'll have this fight and then all being well be on the Feile show in August on the Mick Conlan undercard. I'm hoping that can be a big test for me, a good step up in class. There's no point standing still now that my career is on a roll," he added.
"I have moved very quickly over the past 12 months, from fighting six rounders to winning the Celtic title and then the WBO European belt and I want to keep the momentum going."