FORMER World Champion throwing 200 punches a round in training
Wayne McCullough says he will show that he is far from finished when he lines up for the Prizefighter Super Bantamweights on May 29.
The former WBC World Champion makes his return to the ring in the latest of Barry Hearn's Prizefighter series at Bethnal Green's York Hall after a two year absence from competitive action. The 39 year-old is the stand out name in the line-up, and insists that he will show that he can still compete at the highest level.
"In the last couple of years the media has said "McCullough is done" and that's what I want the young kids to think," said McCullough. "I've never shown in the ring that I am done, so how can they say that? If I'd shown that I am done in past fights it would be different but they can't say that when I've fought at the elite level against guys like Oscar Larios?
"The time I've had off has not been my fault, and it's not been for the lack of trying or training. It's been a disappointment of course but I've kept going and I haven't shown any signs of depreciation or anything - age is just a number really, if I'd shown that I was old or I looked old it would be different but I haven't, I don't drink, I don't smoke, I don't do drugs, I've always lived clean and everyone who knows me in boxing knows that I've always kept training since I was a little boy. I'm like a Bernard Hopkins, he's kept himself in shape and he's 45 years-old, so if he can do it I know I have plenty of years before I hit that."
Prizefighter's fast-paced three-round format may not sound like it would suit a fighter just shy of their forties and making a return after a lengthy absence, but McCullough has no doubts that his style suits the format.
"I can throw 200 punches every round without any problems and I do that in training every day - if a guy tries to keep up with that pace when he's not used to it he's going to be dead after two rounds. I do at least 20 rounds of punching on bag work and pad work at full-throttle and for Prizefighter I've stepped up to a faster pace, instead of looking forward to fighting ten or twelve rounds I've been looking at fighting three rounds at a time so I've stepped up my pace to make myself a little bit faster."
McCullough is the latest big name to attempt to resurrect their career by winning Prizefighter, and the Belfast-born US citizen who lives close to Audley Harrison in America said that A-Force's win at Prizefighter Heavyweights III will help him claim victory in London.
"I've got a place in California as well as Las Vegas and Audley Harrison lives just down the road from me and I've talked to him about what to expect at Prizefighter and it was good to talk from someone who has won it. Big Martin Rogan won the first ever Prizefighter too and I hope he'll be there on the night – and I also hope that I've got something left in me that night too."
While the attention is on McCullough, seven other fighters will be hoping the live Sky Sports event is their springboard to success. Nottinghamshire-based Esham Pickering has previously held the European, British and Commonwealth belts, while Liverpool's Mark Moran fought for the British title.
There are two undefeated fighters among the eight. Welshman Ricky Owen has fought 11 times, while St Helens' Craig Lyon had boxed ten times as a professional. Aberdeen-born Gavin Reid has fought for the Scottish title, Josh Wale of Barnsley has challenged for the English crown and Middlesbrough's Chris Riley is a former England junior international.
"I only really know Esham Pickering out of the other seven fighters, I haven't seen the other guys fight because I've been over here in America," said McCullough. "It's just like going back to the amateur days when you don't know the guys you are going to fight until you get into the ring that night, so I'm going to go out there, throw punches and get my name on that trophy."
Tickets for Prizefighter Super-Bantamweights are available now at £35 (unreserved), £60 (ringside) and £100 (VIP) – call Matchroom Sport on 01277 359900.
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