By Ramon Rodriguez
Back in February, Wayne “The Pocket Rocket” McCullough lost a close decision to WBC super bantamweight champion Oscar Larios. He accomplished this after being away from boxing for two years. On July 16, McCullough fights the first rematch of his career, looking to reverse that decision on the Bernard Hopkins-Jermain Taylor “NeXt in Line” pay-per-view undercard.
McCullough (27-5, 18 KOs), a WBC bantamweight champion from 1995-1997, believes that his fight with Larios was undoubtedly close, yet very unfair to him in the scoring (110-118 (twice), 112-116). This time around, he vows to deliver a win in convincing fashion. “I know in Vegas I’ll get a fair shake and that’s all I want,” said McCullough, who comes from Northern Ireland but is now based in Vegas. “I knew the (February) fight was close either way—a draw I would have been happy with, but when the judge only gave me two rounds, I thought it was a joke. One of the judges only gave me one round in the first six and the first half was all me. But I’ve worked hard to get here and I have a good promoter in Dan Goosen behind me. I’m going to be a champion for him and for myself,” he said last week.
Though he was away from the ring for two years, McCullough showed no signs of slowing down against Larios. Instead, he proved that he is still a world-class fighter with a lot of mileage still left in his tank. With the fight drawing closer, McCullough has intensified his training and is anxious to step in the ring once again. “I’m sparring three days a week and I’ve got three guys that are bigger than me; last time I worked with guys smaller than me,” said McCullough. “I’ve done ten, eleven rounds and I’ve been finishing strong even in the tenth and eleventh rounds. Last time I got a little bit tired but this time my wind’s better. I’m ready to go!”
McCullough acknowledges Larios’ reign as the top super bantamweight since 2002, but confidently states that he will be the one to take his spot. “This is the first rematch I’ve had out of my five losses. I take my hat off to Larios—he’s a great fighter and I respect him for giving me the rematch but he doesn’t know what he’s in for. Anybody that fights me is never the same fighter and I know he won’t be the same guy,” said McCullough. “I’ll break the man apart—I believe I can stop Larios.”
Should he win, McCullough sets himself up for lucrative fights with the big names. Knowing that he can be a world champion once again after almost ten years is something McCullough aims for. “I’m looking forward to it. I think that I’m a better fighter than I was back then,” he said. “I’m stronger, smarter and I think I can fight till I’m fifty years old!”