McCullagh has sights set on European title shot in 2018

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Derry super-bantamweight Tyrone McCullagh is keen to challenge for major titles in the new year after extending his undefeated record to 9-0 on Friday night in Belfast.

The former European amateur medallist halted the previously-undefeated Tom Tran of Germany inside five rounds in a headline bout at the Devenish Complex.

With Belfast boxing experiencing a boom period, McCullagh – who is based out of Belfast’s famous Holy Family gym, training under the Storeys – is eager to see his name in lights alongside former Irish amateur colleagues such as Michael Conlan, Jamie Conlan, Paddy Barnes and Carl Frampton.

“Boxing is a short sport in terms of how long you can compete at the top,” said McCullagh. “I’m not in it to win local titles. I want to win British and European titles and then take it from there.

“With a performance like that I think I can, but I’ll need another step up in my next fight and we’ll gauge it from there. But it’s a sign I’m going in the right direction.”

The 27-year-old impressed as he dropped 25-year-old Tran – now 6-1 – in the fourth after a body shot capped a flurry of punches.

Referee Hugh Russell Jr stepped in at 35secs of the fifth to call a halt when the German came under further pressure as ‘White Chocolate’ recorded his ninth paid win since turning pro two-and-a-half years ago.

“I was happy enough with my performance,” said McCullagh. “It took me a round or two to get going, but I’d be like that in sparring sometimes too when it takes me a get warmed up, but once I found my range it was enjoyable.

“This was my first real step up, so I wanted to stick to my boxing skills, but when I when I knew I was hurting him I started to let more shots go. I wasn’t going out to stop him and I would’ve liked to get a few more rounds under my belt, but you can’t complain with the stoppage either.

“It was great experience because I was able to take a rest and step it up at times in each round, which I wasn’t able to do in the past because my other opponents were just there to take punishment and I was there to unload punishment, so this was a great learning experience.”

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