Super middleweight boxer John McCallum believes he finally settled an old score on Saturday night with a points victory at London’s York Hall.
The Edinburgh fighter returned home at the weekend with the British super middleweight challenge belt after triumphing in his eight-round duel with Dalton Miller.
But, McCallum, 28, says he walked away from one of the sport’s most prestigious venues with more than just the win he attained in the ring.
An ongoing feud with former professional footballer Leon McKenzie, who McCallum controversially lost to in October, was present in Miller’s corner in what the Scot believes was an attempt to unnerve him prior to Saturday’s opening bell.
However, McCallum failed to buckle under the pressure and instead registered the ninth victory of his professional career despite breaking his right hand and reopening an old wound just above his left eye.
“York Hall is a big stage and when I first got there it just brought back some of the memories from last October losing to Leon,” McCallum told the Evening News. “But, as well as getting the win on Saturday, it was great to put that one to bed as well. Even though it wasn’t Leon I was fighting, it was his mate, in the same venue that I lost to Leon and he was there in his corner.
“But as I said I’ve put the Leon McKenzie story to bed. He ran away after it, so I never even spoke to him. He’s never going to fight me again and I actually feel Dalton is a better and stronger boxer than he is. I think they tried to get all the psychological games going but I never let that get to me. I got back to basics and kept my focus. I’ve now won two title belts there as I won an international Masters in 2013 so I’ve had two good nights out of three at York Hall.”
Naturally, McCallum has now set his sights on taking his career to the next level. Scotland’s first three-weight world champion Ricky Burns is scheduled to defend his WBA world super-lightweight title in Glasgow later this year and is one show that is catching the eye of the former Leith Victoria amateur.
“My manager Steve Goodwin is going to speak with Eddie Hearn and see if I can get on the Ricky Burns show which I believe is due to be scheduled for the end of October,” he said.
“But after Saturday night’s win he’s also going to try and put me forward for the vacant Lonsdale Belt, but that will be up to the Board (British Boxing Board of Control) to whether or not they give their approval. My fight on Saturday was classed as an eliminator, but it wasn’t a final eliminator. There’s also the Commonwealth route as well so that might be an option. I want big fights and I want the full British title, but we’ll just see what develops over the next few weeks.
“I’d love Goodwin to do a deal with a promoter up here so we could try and get something sorted for Meadowbank, the Usher Hall or even the Corn Exchange. As much as it’s good going to London, I want to fight in Edinburgh. I’m going to need an extra month with the eye and hand, so hopefully I’ll definitely be fighting in October. For now I’m looking forward to going away on holiday next week.”
And, if McCallum needed any further inspiration to continue his climb up the ladder, he admitted compatriot Burns is the perfect role model.
“You’ve got to remember Ricky Burns lost a few times at British level and then got a shock chance against Roman Martinez (in 2010) and pulled it off and became world champion. It might just be a similar story. I know the titles I’ve won haven’t been massive, but they were tough fights. You’ve got to keep that belief,” he added.