Jack Cullen Prepared For Last Roll Of The Dice Against Luka Plantic

Boxing Scene

It is often said that honesty is the best policy and Jack Cullen makes no excuses for the lacklustre display which saw him lose his British and Commonwealth super middleweight titles to Zak Chelli in January.

“It didn’t work, did it? It was just a f****** s*** night,” Cullen, 22-5-1 (10 KO’s), told VIP.

Four months earlier, Cullen produced a career best performance to take the titles from Mark Heffron, stopping his former gym-mate with a picture perfect left hook in the third round. After an up and down period which saw him beat John Docherty and Avni Yildirim but get stopped by the world class Kevin Lele Sadjo and Diego Pacheco, it seemed like Cullen had finally settled on his style and established a solid base to progress from. 

The first defence of his titles looked like providing the crowd favourite from Little Lever with the ideal opportunity to display just how much he had improved. Back in 2020, Cullen and Chelli battled to a disputed draw and a rematch had been spoken about ever since. 

As Cullen said, it just didn’t work. The return never caught fire and Cullen was unrecognisable from the exciting fighter who – win or lose – always took too many risks. He never left first gear and kept his dangerous right hand in the chamber all night as Chelli smartly picked his pocket. The Londoner eased to a unanimous decision victory as Cullen’s brief reign as champion petered out.

“To be honest with you, we were both s**t if you ask me,” he said. “I don’t think any of us deserved a British title. After the 12th round, I wasn’t even tired. It was mad. At the end of the day, you should be bo*******d and I wasn’t. It was frustrating.

“All I can do is apologise and we go again.”

On Saturday night, Cullen returns to action in Germany where he will fight the unbeaten Croatian, Luka Plantic, 7-0 (6 KOs), for the WBC International title. It is a career lifeline that Cullen didn’t expect to be thrown.

Heartbroken by the defeat to Chelli, frustrated and embarrassed by his performance and concerned about what the future would hold for him, the 30-year-old’s immediate reaction was to announce his retirement from the sport. 

Cullen needn’t have worried. Although he can be inconsistent, he is a recognisable ticket seller with a – usually – exciting style and vulnerabilities. In other words, he is exactly the type of fighter an ambitious manager seeks out to help build an up and coming prospect and whilst he was lying on a sun lounger contemplating going back to work on the building sites, his manager Steve Wood continued to get phonecalls. 

“With the career I’ve had, I didn’t want to be going back to small hall shows,” Cullen said. “I’m not saying I’m better than that but, money-wise, it’d be easier going back to work. I went away for a week with the Mrs and the kids and I had a phone call when I landed asking if I wanted to go to Germany. I’d be stupid not to.

“Steve said, ‘We’ve been offered a fight. It’s entirely up to you if you want to take it or not.’

“I rang Mike [Jennings, his trainer] and said I’d be back in the gym tomorrow and he laughed and said he thought I’d retired. Him and Steve had already spoken about it while I was away. I was on holiday longer than I was retired.”

Cullen travels to Germany this weekend as a hand picked opponent but the trip gives him the perfect chance to earn another chance in the home corner. Plantic has stopped six of his seven opponents and will see Cullen as the ideal next step towards European level. It won’t be easy but whatever happens, Cullen is determined not to leave anything in the ring this time.

“I’m looking forward to it and I’m not going all the way over there and getting beat. This is my last opportunity. It’s s**t or bust with this.”

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