All Photos Supplied By Cheryl McCullough
By Clive Bernath: Former WBC bantamweight champion Wayne McCullough is not convinced Spaniard Kiko Martinez is a big puncher-despite the 21 year-old having stopped 14 of his 17 opponents so far.
The 37 year-old ’Pocket Rocket’ faces the undefeated Martinez at the famous Kings Hall in Belfast on Saturday(Dec 1) night and even though Martinez floored McCullough’s fellow countryman Bernard Dunn twice before stopping him in the first round-Wayne is not convinced about the Spaniard’s punching power.
“He beat Bernard but I’m not gonna say he’s a big puncher,” McCullough told SecondsOut. “Yes he can punch, having stopped fourteen out of seventeen but his opponents up until facing Bernard were atrocious. Don’t forget I fought at a much higher level than him and stopped 13 of my opponents before winning the world title in my seventeenth fight.”
“He(Martinez will be confident, having beaten Bernard and having so many stoppages on his record and will try and knock me out but he will make mistakes,” added McCullough.
McCullough, 27-6-(18), has not fought since being stopped(10th round tko) for the first time in his 14 year 33 fight career by Oscar Larios in July,2005 but he insists he is in good shape and ready for Martinez
“I’ve had a good training camp and I’m very well prepared as always,” said McCullough. “I have not fought for fifteen months but I have always been in the gym and have sparred more than three hundred rounds even when I was not boxing. I’ve also had four sparring partners in the lead up to this fight I’m fully prepared.”
The very likable and down to earth Irishman has enjoyed a fabulous career. After winning a Olympic silver medal at the 1992 Games McCullough turned professional and went on to win the WBC bantamweight crown from Yasuei Yakushi in Nagoya, Japan after just 17 fights. McCullough defended the title twice before losing to Daniel Zaragoza via a split decision.
Prior to the Larios fight the ’Pocket Rocket’ had never been stopped and has only lost to the very best including Mexican legend Erik Morales and Naseem Hamed. If McCullough is defeated on Saturday night will he call it a day and retire?
“I know he’s the favourite and is ranked in the world top 10,”said McCullough. “If I lose then it will be difficult to see where I go but it also depends how I lose. But I’m not gonna hang around and be a stepping stone for other fighters.”
November 27, 2007