Sharkie’s Machine: “'Braveheart' McCullough Stopped By Larios And Doc”
17.07.05 - By Frank Gonzalez Jr. - Overshadowed perhaps by the hoopla surrounding the loss of Bernard Hopkins to Jermain Taylor, there was a Super Bantam Title bout worthy of discussion involving WBC Champion, Oscar “Chololo” Larios and Wayne “Braveheart” McCullough. Yeah, I know his nickname is the “Pocket Rocket” but I think Braveheart might be more appropriate. There’s something about Oscar Larios. He always looks to be having a great time in the ring, often fighting with a big smile on his face the whole time. It cracks me up. Watching a guy do what he enjoys most in the world is infectious. But Larios wasn’t smiling much Saturday night when engaging Wayne McCullough in their rematch.
Article posted on 17.07.2005
I thought Larios won their first fight convincingly, though McCullough kept it competitive. I didn’t even think that fight warranted a rematch but somehow it was made and as it turned out, it was a damn good fight—for the first five rounds at least.
It was clear from the opening bell that McCullough was there to win the fight. Larios is a high volume puncher. McCullough matched his volume and exceeded his intensity in the early rounds. I haven’t seen Wayne that focused in a long time. He was totally in a zone, landing the cleaner, stronger shots, cutting Larios left eye with a punch and giving Chololo all he could handle—and Larios is no slouch, I dare say he’s the best fighter in his division.
Larios immediately started popping his long jab to the face of McCullough—aggressively. McCullough returned fire with equal intensity. They boxed in the center ring and it turned into an all out brawl. Larios suffered a cut over his left eye from a McCullough right cross. Larios was busier but McCullough did more damage. 10-9 McCullough.
In the corner, Larios spat out his mouthpiece in frustration. The cut over his eye bled down his face. His cut man went to work. Larios was not smiling.
They went right back to the slugfest and Larios used his longer reach to tag Wayne to the face and the body. McCullough was right there though, slugging back, landing good shots and trying to move in close enough to nullify Larios’ long arms but Larios was too busy to lose the round. 10-9 Larios.
McCullough put on a heroic effort as he blasted Larios with shots up and down. Larios punches lacked any sting at that point and though he held his own, McCullough gave a stronger effort to win round three. 10-9 McCullough.
Larios face was a streaming with blood from the cut. McCullough was quite game and pressed the action effectively but Larios was getting into a rhythm and scored the cleaner punches. I was impressed with Wayne’s tough as nails attitude. After a head butt, Larios suffered another cut over his right eye. At that point, he had matching cuts bleeding down his face. 10-9 Larios.
Referee Richard Steele, who has a chilling presence, instructed Larios back to his corner to remove excessive Vaseline from his face. Both guys were back to throwing bombs when action resumed. McCullough was reaching deep inside himself and landing some telling blows. Larios kept his composure and landed some shots—but with diminishing authority. He appeared a bit rattled by Wayne’s intensity but he proceeded to wail on him as the round progressed. McCullough held up well to Larios late attempt to steal the round. 10-9 McCullough.
Larios took his corner’s advice and did what he does best—box from the outside, pop his jab and follow up with timely combinations. Suddenly, McCullough was getting tagged regularly and was slowing by the second. Maybe he wore himself out a bit in the previous round? Larios capped the
round with a flush right hand into Wayne’s face that had to hurt. 10-9 Larios.
Larios found his rhythm, took the lead and was starting to administer a beating to the body and head of McCullough. He then rocked Wayne with a couple of solid right hands. McCullough taunted Larios, dropping his hands and asking for more. Larios obliged by whacking him some more. 10-9
Larios continued to assault the body of McCullough and bringing up the whirlwind of punches to the face. At one point, Larios slipped, it was rightly ruled a slip. McCullough pressed and landed a few clean punches but realized that Wayne couldn’t hurt him—not anymore at least. McCullough was slowing and losing power. Larios was the boss and was landing shots at a high percentage. 10-9 Larios.
Though McCullough showed big heart, it wasn’t helping him put any substantial punches together. Larios was dominating him with non-stop offense. 10-9 Larios. In the corner of McCullough, trainer Freddy Roach warned his fighter that he was, “taking too many shots.” He instructively warned him to jab more and defend better or he’d stop the fight. Richard Steele came over and echoed that point. With the varying accounts of McCullough’s health (he supposedly has a tumor in his head that forced England’s doctors to disallow him from fighting there a while back) they’d be keeping a close eye on him.
Larios out boxed McCullough, who pressed on ineffectively. After taking a series of unanswered shots, Steele looked ready to halt the contest but let it continue till the bell. McCullough was taking a lot of punishment but didn’t look particularly hurt. 10-9 Larios.
The ringside physician, Dr. Margaret Goodman paid a visit to McCullough’s corner, followed by his promoter, Mr. Goossen. Dr. Goodman apologized profusely to Wayne but told him that she couldn’t let the fight continue because he was taking too much punishment.
McCullough was distraught and protested, saying, “There’s only two rounds to go, please, let me finish.” But the nays had it, as just about everyone in his corner agreed to err on the side of safety in this case. It was the first time McCullough had ever been stopped. I doubt he would have been KO’d by Larios because Wayne is so damn tough—but who knows what damage he might have sustained considering how much he was being hit? Painful as it was to watch and as much as I like Wayne McCullough—it was the right call.
There was a lot of respect in the ring between Larios and McCullough afterwards. And in the end—Larios big smiled returned. One thing is for certain, though Larios convincingly beat McCullough again, none can say Wayne wasn’t competitive.
Wayne McCullough is a very good fighter who is just a notch below Championship caliber. His fights have always been entertaining to watch—win or lose. Guys like Oscar Larios, Scott Harrison and Erik Morales may always be a bit more than he can chew but everyone can’t be a Champion. Wayne McCullough is a true credit to the sport of boxing. There’s plenty of honor in being a Gatekeeper for his division. Good matchmaking is what creates great fights. I hope to see him fight again someday.
Congratulations to Oscar “Chololo” Larios, who was awarded the win via TKO 10. He earned it and is a great Champion. I’d like to see Larios try and unify the Titles at 122-pounds. If that’s his goal, he should be looking to fight WBA Champ, Mahyar Monshipour or a rematch with current IBF Champ, Israel Vasquez (who Larios beat in 2002 by TKO 12) next.
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