Boxing


Exclusive: Wayne McCullough Talks About His Upcoming Participation In May 29th's "Prizefighter"

by James Slater - In somewhat surprising news, former WBC bantamweight champion Wayne McCullough has confirmed he will be a participant in the next instalment of Barry Hearn's "Prizefighter" series - this one set for May 29th, at super-bantamweight.

Though Wayne is now aged 39 and has been inactive since his June 2008 6th-round corner retirement loss to Juan Ruiz, the sheer class and experience he possesses have to give him a good chance of winning the tournament when it takes place..

McCullough, 27-7(18) is, however, honest enough to admit that he is not sure how things will transpire when he steps through the ropes on the last Saturday in May.

Talking to me from his gym in Las Vegas yesterday evening, U.K time, "The Pocket Rocket" said he will be in top physical shape for the exciting tournament.

"It was about three weeks ago," Wayne said with regards to when Hearn approached him about boxing in "Prizefighter."

"Last year, when Tony Oakey won the [light-heavyweight] tournament, I was at the fight and I said to Barry Hearn, 'you should do a super-bantamweight show, and keep me in mind for it.' It's fun, you know - like the amateur days; with three rounds and lots of punches."

McCullough says he will have no problems making super-bantamweight; due to how he keeps himself in excellent condition.

"No, I don't see any problems with the weight. I'm always in shape, that's the way I am. Training is not a chore to me. I got up this morning and ran and then I did two hours of training in the gym, and I'll run again later today - that's just me."

But will rust be a problem, what with the fast way the guys start in "Prizefighter" - sometimes coming straight out of the blocks. After all, the 39-year-old has been far from active as of late.

"Not really; even though I'll be having my second fight in five years (laughs). Once you get hit on the chin you punches throw back. And if the guys do come out blazing, like Naseem Hamed and Erik Morales did when they fought me, they'll realise they can't do it. With Hamed and Morales, they realised they couldn't come straight at me and stand right in front of me, and everything changed [in those fights] after the first round. If you stand in front of me I'll hit you two-to-one. I'm never more than two weeks away from being ready for a fight anyway, because I keep myself in shape."

Wayne says he may have trouble getting sparring for the tournament, but he isn't overly concerned.

"It's really hard getting sparring. When I spar with a fighter, I do it for free, to help them get ready; but when I want them to spar with me they want paying. They won't return the favour. But I'm not too concerned with sparring, because I keep sharp with other training. It's all psychological, too. You can spar a hundred rounds with big gloves on and feel tired at the end of it all, and then you have to fight (laughs). My friend and former world champion Danny Romero, remember him? He never sparred for any fight at all, not ever."

McCullough will be far and away the biggest name involved on May 29th (if not in "Prizefighter" history thus far). Will he be able to get sufficiently motivated to fight someone who, comparatively, could well be at novice level?

"I'll have to," Wayne replied.

"Most people seem to think I'm done anyway, so these young guys will feel they have to beat me or it will be a setback for them - the same way I looked at a fight with an older fighter back when I was coming up. So the young guys facing me, that will spur them on, to win over a big name."

Audley Harrison revived his career by winning "Prizefighter," Wayne says he's not sure what he'll do yet, whether he wins the tournament or not.

"I'm taking one fight at a time. It will be good to get back over there and fight again after all this time. I've not fought over there since 2003 and it will be good to get back on British soil for a fight. I don't know about after, we'll have to see."

With McCullough's famously reliable chin, it's not likely he will get stopped by any fighter he faces on May 29th. Wayne says he won't go all out for the KO himself, yet says it will be bad news for anyone who stand and slugs with him.

"If guys trade with me there will be knockouts. Like I said, Hamed and Morales couldn't do it. If the fighters in this [Prizefighter] do stand and trade with me something will happen. It will be great if I do get quick knockouts, but if they come, they come. I won't necessarily go looking for the stoppage."

Thus far, Esham Pickering, the former British, Commonwealth and European super-bantamweight champion, is the only fighter who has been confirmed for the show. McCullough knows "Brown Sugar" well and says he'd have no trouble fighting his friend.

"I know Esham well, I spoke with him two days ago on Face Book. We both agreed this is a good opportunity for us. I was supposed to fight Esham once before, but it never happened. I know what he's like, what his punches are like and what mistakes he makes. I know everything he does, really."

The former WBC champion admits he never thought he'd be fighting on in 2010 back when he first turned pro!

"I said I'd retire at age 30. That was my goal and I said it on T.V after I became [WBC] world champion. People say that to me, that I said I'd retire at 30, and I say, yes, I did say it. But things change in life and peoples' goals and dreams change. I've had 17 fights in the last 13 years (laughs). That's not many at all. If I'd kept going the way I was when I was world champion, I'd have probably had about 50 fights in my career, but I had problems with promoters and problems with The British Board [of Control]." (who refused Wayne a license back in 2000, when it was discovered he had a cyst in his head. After a long battle with The Board, Wayne, who now has a clean bill of health, was given the all clear in late 2002)

Wayne thinks he has quite a bit left to offer, yet he is candid enough to admit that he isn't sure.

"I hope I can do well and put on good fights for the fans in Prizefighter. I want to feel good in the ring, as I do in the gym in training. The truth is, I don't know for sure how I'll feel on fight night. But Cheryl (McCullough, Wayne's wife and manager) says maybe I should retire when I'm fifty (laughs). Maybe I'll do a George Foreman and win the title back at age 45!"

Article posted on 04.05.2010



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