|Wayne McCullough: "I've got a lot left in the tank!"
INTERVIEW By Benny Henderson Jr - A.K.A "Big Dog" (Oct 12, 2006)
The old adage ‘It ain’t over till it’s over’ would be revamped a bit when being spoken by former world champion Wayne McCullough, 27-6 (18). “It ain’t over till I say it’s over!” McCullough says in his thick Irish brogue and that sentiment is exactly how the ‘Pocket Rocket’ sees his career: unfinished. Wayne isn’t ready to hang the gloves up just yet. In fact the he has another world title in his sights and believes he will have the strap in his grasp sometime soon.
Hailing from Belfast, Northern Ireland, McCullough banged out an impressive amateur career competing in 319 bouts. Wayne won several competitions and earned himself a bronze medal in the World Cup, a gold medal in the Commonwealth Games, and a silver medal at the Olympics Games to become one of Ireland’s top fighters throughout their pugilistic history.
Under the tutelage of legendary boxing trainer Eddie Futch, McCullough turned pro in early 1993 in the US, and just two
years after turning pro won the WBC bantamweight title defeating Yasuei Yakushiji in Japan in the summer of 1995. In his thirteen years as a pro, Wayne has awed the boxing world with his unrelenting boxing style and the hard fought wars he has waged in the ring. McCullough has faced some top-notch competition, going toe-to-toe against the likes of Naseem Hamed, Erik Morales and Johnny Bredahl.
McCullough’s last two outings against Oscar Larios in 2005 proved fruitless in both bids for another world title, and after his last go around, he was medically suspended by the Nevada Athletic Commission but the suspension was lifted in February of this year. The thirty-five year old fighter has had his share of naysayers dismissing his return to the ring, but never one to be bewildered by negative press, McCullough still has his license and plans on making a strong comeback in the near future. With thirteen years, two hundred rounds over thirty-three bouts and one world title as a professional fighter, Wayne ‘Pocket Rocket’ McCullough still has something left in his gas tank and in this exclusive interview, Wayne and Cheryl McCullough gets candid on his career, his future and another world title shot. Enjoy.
Benny Henderson Jr.: First off Wayne, I just want to say congratulations on getting back your boxing license. Give the Doghouse your thoughts on the unanimous approval.
Wayne McCullough: I already hold a boxing license in Britain which is one of the strictest commissions. So it was pretty straightforward here in Nevada. I had every confidence that once I did my yearly medicals and cleared them, that I would be licensed in my home state.
BH: Has there been a projected date or opponent made just yet?
WM: No, I’ve nothing planned as yet but I’m always in training so when the right fight comes along, I will be ready.
BH: Why return, Wayne? I mean with all that you have accomplished in your career, what else do you have to prove, do you feel that you still have a lot to offer to the division?
WM: I don’t have anything to prove. I’m planning to fight again because of the love I have for the sport. I’m fit and healthy and have only 33 fights under my belt so I consider myself ‘ring young’. If I can get another title shot, I know I can win it. I’d love to fight (The Ring Magazine World Champion/IBF junior featherweight titlist) Israel Vazquez. What does he have to lose if he fights me? Only his belt!
BH: What about the ones who would declare that you should just hang them up for good? What would you say to the so called naysayers?
WM: My wife/manager Cheryl, my co-manager Stuart Campbell and I make the decisions about my career. People say they care about me, which I don’t doubt, and that’s why they think I shouldn’t fight again. But they don’t see how I live. They don’t see how I train. My wife would be the first to see if I am slipping in any way. Yes, I’ve lost my last six world title challenges but I’ve always gone in as the underdog where I was expected to lose. It’s nothing new to me for people to say I should hang up my gloves. But my team and I know that I’ve got a lot left in the tank.
BH: It has been over a year since your last ring outing. What about the ring rust, and do you feel you should get a tune up or two before going for the top of the division?
WM: I think boxers develop ring rust by not training and staying away from the gym for long periods of time. But I’m in the gym everyday. I’m always training and right now, I’m sparring with my own fighters and I sparred with Kevin Kelley for his most recent win. I was out of the ring from October 1999 until January 2002 and registered a second round KO over my opponent (Alvin Brown) in my return to the ring. It looked like I’d never been away.
BH: I would like to direct this question to your wife and manager, Cheryl McCullough. Cheryl, being his wife/manager, you know Wayne better than anybody so it would seem. What are your thoughts on the past suspension and now with the recent approval of his license?
Cheryl McCullough: I think the suspension on Wayne for six months after his fight last July was uncalled for. But we didn’t protest it and at the request of the Nevada commission, Wayne cleared every test they asked him to do. There was no medical reason for him to be suspended. We didn’t apply for a license in Nevada at the beginning of this year because we didn’t need a license. But I am actively looking to get him back in the ring before the end of the year so he needed to be licensed somewhere in the U.S. Getting a license, in my eyes, was automatic. With safety as our number one concern, we wanted Wayne to go through every test possible. He passed with flying colors and he’s now ready to take on the world once again.
BH: Is there a certain fight plan that you guys have mapped out for Wayne’s return that you could share with the readers?
CM: We don’t have a plan right now but with the wheels in motion, he could fight in late November or early December. However, if he has to wait until the New Year to fight, then so be it. He’ll be ready when the time to get back into the ring comes. I believe he can challenge and win another world title sometime next year.
BH: One last question Cheryl, without being biased, where do you see Wayne in the mix of things against the competition of today?
CM: In my opinion, there is no ‘competition’ for him in his weight division. Without being biased, I honestly believe he would beat any of the champions out there today.
BH: I guess this can be directed to the both of you. If there is anything you two would like to add or say in closing of this interview, please feel free to speak your candid thoughts.
WM: My wife and I have been in this boxing business for a long time. I’ve personally been in the game for over 28 years. We will always do what is best for our family. I thank the fans that have stuck by me through all these years and I hope they continue to support me until the end of my fighting career. I’ve started training four professional fighters Alex Arthur, Enrique Ornelas, Librado Andrade and Francisco Santana and I ask that my fans pass on their support to my stable of fighters now and in the future when I decide to hang up my gloves.
CM: I personally find people telling Wayne to retire a little insulting. He has always been a stand up guy in this sport. He has always done the right thing and will continue to do so. He has so much respect for this sport and wants to see it get the credit it deserves. Wayne loves boxing so much he will be in the sport until the day he dies! Thanks for all the support from this website and from the fans around the world. We appreciate each and every one of them.
I would like to thank Wayne and Cheryl McCullough for taking time out to speak to the Doghouse; your time was greatly appreciated. For more info on the ‘Pocket Rocket’ please visit: www.pocketrocketbox.com.
© Copyright / All Rights reserved: Doghouse Boxing 1998-2006