Exclusive Interview: Wayne McCullough

By Brad Cooney


Exclusive Interview: Wayne McCullough

Former WBC bantamweight champion, Wayne McCullough steps back into the ring on December 1st, in Belfast, Ireland against an undefeated up and coming prospect, Kiko Martinez.  Last time Martinez was in the ring, he knocked out the European champion, Bernard Dunne in the first round.  McCullough has fought much higher caliber talent than Martinez has thus far, and he's a former world champion, and even at 37 years of age, he shouldn't be taken lightly.

BT – What's up Wayne?

WM – Not much, training hard and getting ready to get back in there, to give my fans what they want.

BT – You're fighting the European suoer bantamweight champion Kiko Martinez. Talk about your opponent.

WM – He just knocked out the European champion, Bernard Dunne, and Irish fighter.  He's undefeated, and is supposed to be an up-and-coming star, I'll put a stop to that (laughs).

BT – What does he bring into the ring, what are you going to have in front of you in December?

WM – He's 17-0 with 14 knockouts, so I know that he can punch a little bit.  I tell the press that when I was his age, I was 17-0 with 13 knockouts, and I was the WBC world champion, and I beat 3 world champions.  I was at a different level than this kid is at.  I am the old man, he's the young kid, so I need to keep my hands up, and work the body hard, and do what I learned in America, keep busy.

BT – He's an undefeated fighter, but you have fought legends, and you're a former world champion, do you feel as if he is underestimating you due to your age?

WM – Well it's good that he is. He knocked out Ben Dunne in 86 seconds, Ben is my friend.  If you hit someone in the temple, it knocks everything off.  This guy has fought guys with records like 5-10 and 10-10, they haven't got good records.  I haven't fought guys like that.  I feel that against Bernard he just caught him.  He wants to step up now, and they feel I am an old man, so they think I am a good scout for them.  I think this kid is stepping up to a different level.

BT – Talk about being able to fight in front of your home fans in Belfast.

WM – Oh, it's unbelievable.  I have good fans around the world no matter where I fight, because a bunch of Irish guys always show up.  But to fight in front of my home fans in Belfast is great.  Everybody knows me,  they just want to be around me, it's going to be a fantastic night.

BT – Do you feel at this stage of your career that another world title shot is realistic? Or do you continue to fight just due to the warrior in you?

WM – I love to fight, I have been fighting for 14 years but I haven't had that many fights.  I have had 33 fights, and 11 of them were against world champions.  A third of my fights have been against world champions, legends, hall of fame type guys.  I just want the best guys in the division, I've always been like that.  Maybe this time I am not fighting the best, but I am not underestimating the guy.  Age is just a number, if you look after yourself your body can go longer.  I have always looked after myself.

BT – Big Roy Jones told me one time that warriors have to detox off of boxing, they can't just shut the switch off and retire.  Does that analogy apply in your case?

WM – Well I have never talked about retiring, it's the journalists that have been saying that.  In Roy's case, when he got knocked out, and then knocked out again, it proved that his reflexes may not  have been as good.  The truth is, if I got knocked out like that I wouldn't be in the ring, and I don't think my wife would allow that either.  When Roy got knocked out twice, and lost to Tarver again, that made it three losses in a row.  If the shoe was on the other foot, I would have probably retired.

BT – How is your training camp going for this fight coming up in December?

WM – Well I have good people looking out for me.  I miss Eddie Futch, since he passed away I really haven't had many people to teach me.  When I look at my past fights, I probably was doing the wrong thing.  The first thing I did with this fight is study tapes.  Eddie taught me to study tapes, and training camp has been going well.  I want guys in sparring to try and take my head off, I want a hard camp.  I sparred a few Mexican fighters last week, I told them to put on 8 oz gloves.  I wanted to taste what it felt like to get hit again, it was a reality check.

BT – Other than power, does Kiko Martinez bring anything else into the ring?

WM – Well he keeps the pace, he doesn't go a fast pace.  Against me he'll have to fight a fast pace.  He tries to fight slow, and he loads up with one shot.  I will go my pace, and this fight will go different for him.  I am not going to fight at his pace, if I fought at his pace I would probably fall asleep.

BT – What is your game plan for 2008?

WM – Well with a win against Martinez, I would like to fight two more fights, then by next summer I would love to fight Israel Vasquez, or Rafael Marquez.  I think Vasquez is a great champion, I would like a crack at him. 

BT – When you look back at your career, who was the one guy that you would say was your most difficult opponent?

WM – Victor Rabanales was probably, former world champion.  I fought him my 13th fight, he was ranked number 1 in the world, and I was ranked number 5.  We had to fight each other in an elimination fight.  I think it was more inexperience on my behalf.  I fought Morales when he was just 24 years old, he was pound for pound one of the best in the world.  He knocked out 9 guys straight.  He hit me hard in the first round, and in the 12th round he was hitting me just as hard (laughs).  When I see him he still jokes with me, he tells me that  I have a hard head.  I tell him it's because I am Irish (laughs).

BT – Morales was a beast when you fought him.

WM – He was the world champion, he knocked out 9 guys straight.  When I fought Hamed, he knocked out like 18 guys straight, and I moved up two weight divisions.  I fought these guys when they were working up to their primes.  I can look back at that and say that I have fought the best.

BT – What is your most proudest moment in boxing?

WM – When I went to Japan and took Yasuei Yakushiji's title.  He was 26, and was making the fifth title defense.  I am proud of that, but the truth is, I am most proud of coming to America and working with Eddie Futch.

BT – Do you have any closing thoughts for the fans?

WM – I want to thank all of my fans.  Some of the media has been saying that I should retire, but my fans keep emailing me, and telling me that they want to see me fight again.  I want to say to my fans, I am going to give them what they want, that's 100 percent of Wayne McCullough, and hopefully win another world championship.


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