DoghouseBoxing Catches up with Wayne McCullough
By Martin Dobbing (August 6, 2004) 
'The Pocket Rocket' Wayne McCullough
Just when it looked as though the career of Boxing’s favourite warrior, 'The Pocket Rocket' Wayne McCullough, was coming to an end, the Gods have conspired to give this true professional the chance to finish his career on HIS terms. This week, McCullough has signed a deal with Dan Goosen’s ‘Goosen Tutor’ Promotions. The Irishman’s comeback plans have so far been delayed due to defeat for prospective opponents and injury to Wayne prior to a scheduled appearance on the Audley Harrison - Tomasz Bonin undercard. But with these setbacks now behind him, the delighted former world champion is full of confidence for the future.

"The deal I did with Dan is great," Wayne told me. "I will stay busy and work my way up to the title again. I am hoping to be back in the ring within the next couple of months".

Finally things seem to have come right for one of the most likeable characters in our beloved sport. McCullough was scheduled to face Johnny Tapia until 'Mi Vida Loca' was defeated. In addition, a meeting with Paulie Ayala also failed to materialise when the Texas native was selected to fight Marco Antonio Barrera. There is no doubt that these disappointments have taken their toll on the Belfast man.

"It has been very frustrating, but Cheryl has been working tirelessly to get me back in there. I haven't had a day off from the gym in the last year and I have been working hard,” said McCullough.

But this comeback will not be welcomed in all quarters. The wars with Hamed and Morales, combined with a brutal defeat in Glasgow against WBO featherweight ruler Scott Harrison have convinced many that Wayne has come to the end and that he should pack up and concentrate on a blooming media career. Yet he remains convinced he has something left to offer, and is eager to convince the sceptics of the wisdom of his decision. McCullough accepts however, that he has a difficult task ahead of him.

"My last fight (against Scott Harrison in March 2003) is going to be hard to overcome because everyone thinks I’m done. I need to go in there and prove that performance was not typical of the way I fight. I haven't done much sparring lately but I will be starting again next week," he revealed.

Sadly, age does catch up with all of us and in a year where Mike Tyson and
Paulie Ayala have been destroyed the question still remains, will age catch up with this most brave pugilist? Not yet, according to McCullough. "I take care of my body so getting old doesn't concern me. I know I have a good few years left," was the emphatic reply. There still remains the question of which division Wayne will campaign at, feather or super- bantam? This appears to be a decision for the future as McCullough explained to me. "I haven't made Super Bantamweight since 1999 so it might be hard in the beginning for me to get down there again but once I become active I know I will be able to make it".

As any self-respecting British boxing fan will know, discussion on McCullough over the last six months has been centred on a mooted clash with current European super-bantamweight champion Esham Pickering. Both seemed set on a dust-up that could have elevated Pickering to world level and put Wayne back into title contention. Strangely it never materialised, a point not lost on McCullough.
"I don't know why the Pickering fight fell through. Jess Harding called in April and asked if I would fight him right away even though Cheryl had been telling Jess I wanted a couple of warm up fights. I felt I would be taking that fight with a disadvantage since he was active and I was not. Maybe they felt the only way they could beat me was if I had been inactive - even though an inactive Wayne McCullough could beat an active Esham Pickering any day,” the Irishman insisted.

“I would love to fight Pickering and Jess knows it. So maybe if he and my new promoter can work things out, it could still happen. However, there are bigger fish for me over here so a Pickering fight would need to be very worthwhile,” he warned.

Some fighters return to the ring at a 'late' age just for money, Tyson being a prime example in recent weeks. I felt compelled to ask the man what he really wanted to do with his career. Did he still have that burning ambition to win another world title? I got a rousing reply. “No, actually I want 3 titles now!!! Seriously though, my goals have not changed. I want to win another world title and when I retire I want to be honoured in the World Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota," admitted the Pocket Rocket.

And Wayne is convinced his dream, and that of his fans, can become a reality. He respects the other champs but is convinced he can be victorious in any prospective clash. "I personally feel that I can beat the champions out there today and if any of them want to take me on once I have gotten rid of my ring rust, then let's do it!" McCullough had some kind words for his loyal fans that have watched and waited for news of their hero’s career ever since that devastating defeat to Scott Harrison. "Thank you all for standing by me and supporting me through this very tough time. I want you to continue to support me in the final stages of my career".

Wayne, we will be there until the end.
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