Shankill’s very own Marc McCullough (8-1) stopped Elemir Rafael (27-79-2) in the third round on the undercard of Carl Frampton vs Hugo Cazares.

Despite making an impressive start under the tutelage of Cyclone Promotions, McCullough will feel unsatisfied that his chance to clinch the WBO European belt was stripped from him only a few hours before the scheduled bout.

By the time the Shankill featherweight entered the ring he was set to face his third scheduled opponent, Elemir Rafael stepping in as a late replacement for Amor Belahdj Ali who failed a brain scan. McCullough admitted that he was “gutted” that the change of opponent led to his European title opportunity being cancelled.

“I only found out at 4pm that the title fight was off, so my head was away. It was good to get a few rounds but I was gutted the title fight fell through,” he told the Newsletter.

Despite the distractions, upon entering the ring Marco remained professional in executing the job that was required. From the first bell, there was not only a gulf in height but also in class between the Slovakian journeyman and McCullough.

Starting the contest fast Marc forced his opponent on to the back foot with striking right hands, letting his Slovakian opponent know that he wasn’t in for an easy night’s work. As the contest progressed McCullough began to overwhelm his opponent, displaying far superior variety in his punches. The pressure began to tell with 20 seconds left in the second round, as a drubbing right hand sent Rafael to the canvas. The foreign fighter, upon reaching his feet, was saved by the bell.

Come the third the Slovakian lacked any coherent reply to McCullough’s dominant exchanges, and the referee ruled that Rafael was in no position to continue 59 seconds into the third round. In a one sided affair McCullough boosted his own record to nine wins and a solo defeat.

Barry McGuigan’s Cyclone Promotions have already announced their intention to keep Northern Ireland’s brightest prospects active throughout the year. The Shankill fighter is the focal point of these plans as he looks to headline a bill at the Waterfront Hall on the 24th May.

When Barry McGuigan announced the formation of Cyclone Promotions, many were unsure what effect it would have on Irish boxing. With four young, exciting Irish fighters now signed up to Cyclone Promotions, it is providing a great opportunity for the most talented boxers on the Emerald Isle.

Under McGuigan’s promotional management young Irish fighters like McCullough are guaranteed the chance to shine on the television platform of Boxnation. Having this promotional tool is something Irish boxing has lacked in preceding years, now the Belfast boxing scene has the chance to display its wealth of talent on a national scale.

With McCullough rapidly rising through the domestic featherweight rankings, it appears inevitable that a collision course is set with fellow Belfast featherweight Martin Lindsay. While that fight is touted as being in the pipeline, McCullough admits it may be a bit too soon for negotiation talks.

“There have always been rumours surrounding a fight with me and Martin Lindsay. I think it would be a great fight, although I do think I’m a few fights behind him in terms of experience. In a few fights time, who knows what will happen.” he said in an exclusive interview with TopClassBoxing.

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