Purposefully striding into the ring amidst a cacophony of cheers and adulation Ciaran McVarnock was relishing his Belfast debut. After all, the 22-year-old had been eager to return home and display his skills to a burgeoning fan base after winning two bouts across the water. Following a bruising six-twos against Lithuanian survivor Aivaras Balsys, Ciaran moved his fledgling record to 3-0 by virtue of a 60-54 success on Hugh Russell Jnr’s Scorecard. The youngster later revealed, however, that he was not happy with his overall performance.

“I loved the whole thing, the atmosphere and everything for my first fight back at home in front of an unbelievable crowd,” said Ciaran.

“The tickets I sold was great and all, but I was nowhere near as good as I’ve been in sparring. I sparred better in the gym against Paul Butler than I did there tonight. I wasn’t at my greatest but I’m happy to get the win when not performing at my best. He was frustrating me on the inside and holding.”

What McVarnock insists he wanted was an all-out brawl but cagey Balsys was unwilling to comply.

“At times I wanted him to stand and have a war but he was holding on and I was trying to bend my knees and work and step to the side but no matter what I did he was holding on and I couldn’t break free. This is going to be a big year for me and Frank Warren’s going to keep me busy. To be honest I want more home fights and I proved I can sell the tickets in my first fight back home. I can’t wait to do it again with these brilliant fans.”

Selling out smaller hall venues is clearly a tick in the box for Ciaran as he strives for more opportunities. Could Frank Warren be tempted back over to Belfast for a show with his young fighter making an appearance?

“It all depends because I can sell near enough 200 tickets on a small hall show in just my third professional fight so imagine what I could do if I got on to the Frampton bill?” said McVarnock. “Loads of people were asking me today for tickets but I was under pressure and just couldn’t do it so I told them to pay at the door. I’ve never come up against anyone with that sort of style before so if I do box that style again I’ll know how to deal with it next time. I know I can box a million times better but I still won so I’m happy with that. I have to thanks Mark Dunlop for putting me on the show.”

Now based in Manchester but keen to avail of any free spots on Irish cards, McVarnock is reaping the benefits of the top-class sparring partners he enjoys mixing with at Anthony Farnell’s gym.

“My main sparring partner is Paul Butler who is fighting for his second world title and I have no doubt he will win it. I’ve been sparring the likes of Ross Burkinshaw, Commonwealth and English champion, and other unbeaten fighters,” he added.

“I made the right move going over to Arnie’s gym because he’s an unbelievable trainer and if I was here I wouldn’t get that kind of quality sparring. I stopped sparring Paul Butler in camp because he needs a southpaw so Arnie got me Burkinshaw which just shows how good Arnie is with me.”

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