NEWLY crowned Celtic champion Emma McCulloch has admitted to feeling disappointed by the sudden withdrawal of her opponent ahead of her title bout.

But the Lochgelly boxing star says that not even a dramatic late change to who she would take on for the belt has taken the shine off an achievement that has made "all the sacrifice worthwhile".

The 28-year-old, who became Fife's first female professional boxer when she stepped up from the amateur ranks last year, stepped into the ring on January 31 to contest the Celtic light flyweight title at Glenrothes' Gilvenbank Hotel.

Sanctioned by the British Boxing Board of Control, the fight had been due to pitch Emma into the ring with England's Dani Hodges, in a rematch after the pair had met south of the border in July.

In a tight contest, Staffordshire-based Hodges, 33, narrowly got the judges verdict by 58-57 before a second meeting – this time with a championship belt on the line – was arranged.

However, as reported by Times Sport last week, Hodges announced that she had retired less than a week before she was due to face Emma, leaving her facing the prospect of having no opponent.

But, thanks to the efforts of her coach, Stevie McGuire, Slovakia's Claudia Ferenczi took Hodges' place and, after the British Boxing Board of Control confirmed that the Celtic belt would still be up for grabs, Emma went on to clinch the title with a score of 60-53.

Reflecting on her achievement, she commented: "I was disappointed to find out that Dani had pulled out less than a week before the fight, but more shocked that it was due to retirement.

"It's absolutely her choice to retire, but it was very poor timing in my opinion. Her coach sent me well wishes, advising that he had no idea!

"If it was me, I would've bowed out after the fight, but I guess that's boxing!

"I was very lucky to get another opponent at such short notice. I know Stevie worked tirelessly to get a match, and credit to Claudia Ferenczi, she accepted and travelled from Slovakia the day before!

"I was set for the rematch with Dani, so it did throw me, but after processing it, I decided that it was better than no fight at all. I trained really hard, felt fit, and I had a good crowd coming to the show to support me."

Emma, who is sponsored by Diamond Fitness, of Lochgelly, Ryan Knox Carpet Fitter, and Cartmore Building Supplies, could now set her sights on working towards a British or Commonwealth title bout, but is keeping her options open.

"I'm still buzzing with the win," she added.

"Claudia was a tricky opponent so I certainly took some learning points from the fight. Overall, I'm happy with my performance, and to earn my first title as a pro makes all the sacrifice worthwhile!

"I'm still ticking over at the moment but I will have a little rest and have a chat with Stevie in terms of what’s next. I'll be looking to get another couple of fights under my belt and hopefully that'll open doors to even bigger title fights."