The last time I spoke with Irish born featherweight turned bantamweight boxing champion Wayne McCullough, he spoke of redemption on the eve of his re-match with Oscar Larios. The outcome of this fight - a shot at the WBC super-bantamweight world championship - was not what Wayne had hoped for.
His dreams of revenge were shattered when Larios (Mexico) stood victorious after a tenth-round stoppage. Wayne feels he fought his heart out for this re-match and considers the fight to have been stopped too early. Critics have suggested Wayne should quit boxing while he still has the physical capacity to do so.
However, Wayne, ever the fighter, will continue boxing - a sport he loves and feels has kept him in great shape throughout his life. Damage incurred through boxing obviously hasn't affected Wayne to the extent some might think. He recently, and successfully, turned his hand to writing, with numerous articles for various Websites to his credit along with an autobiography to be released soon.
When he eventually leaves the sport, Wayne would like to coach boxing and work as a commentator. One thing is for sure: Wayne will be remembered as one of boxing's greats.
In the following interview, Wayne talks about his life in boxing, and the future.
[ Q ] Hi Wayne. The last time I spoke with you, you were preparing for a re-match with Oscar Larios. Most of us know the outcome of that fight. What are your feelings on this fight? What do you feel went wrong?
I think the fight was stopped too early and I didn't get to finish. I lost my two best rounds and I can never get those back.
[ Q ] You are considered old for a professional boxer. How many years of boxing do you feel you have left? How do you feel physically, as opposed to when you were fighting in the mid-90s?
I feel exactly the same - great! I do everything the same. My training hasn't change; I've just learned a lot more. I will go on as long as I am healthy and still enjoying it.
[ Q ] You have fought some great fights, and have gone down in the record books as being one of the most consistent featherweights of all time. What motivates you to keep giving your best year after year?
The love of boxing keeps me going. I have dedicated my whole life to boxing and I love the thrill of getting in the ring. I want to give my fans 100%.
[ Q ] Are you scheduled to fight again soon? If so, who might this be against?
No, not at this time however I know my promoter is working on something so I leave everything up to him.
[ Q ] I understand you are writing for various Websites now. Tell me more about this new role.
I was offered to write for a Website back in 2001 so I went for it. I didn't go to school for journalism but I enjoy it. I write for several different Websites and magazines now and I love it. Major sites I write for are SKYSports.com and ESPN.com. I have been keeping busy! I have also written an autobiography that is being published in the United Kingdom and Ireland in November.
[ Q ] Tell me more about this. Describe the process. What did you enjoy most about this?
My autobiography will be released in November. I sat in Cheryl's office for 2 weeks while she typed and I talked. I relived my life all over again including the good and the bad times of my career. I most enjoyed writing it myself in my own words. Now my fans will be able to read all the inside details of my life in and out of boxing. Some things will shock you!
[ Q ] Boxing is seen as a physically taxing sport. What kind of toll do you feel boxing has taken on your health over the years?
I've had many bumps and bruises - broken cheekbone, jaw and nose - all the usual stuff. But I don't feel as if I have done myself any harm. I'm prettier now than I was when I started. It's like getting plastic surgery by someone's fists!! Ha ha!
[ Q ] What do you feel you will do after you retire from professional boxing?
I'd love to be a commentator. I love talking about boxing. I'd also like to follow in Eddie Futch's footsteps and become a trainer. I know I can be a great coach - I learnt from the best.
| Eddie Futch - Born: 1911 Died: Oct. 10, 2001
Eddie Futch, who finally retired from boxing in 1998 at age 87, is not only one of the greatest trainers in boxing, but one of the sport's true gentlemen. Born in Hillsboro, Mississippi in 1911, Futch moved to Detroit as a child. It is there that he excelled in athletics, including basketball and boxing.
In 1932, Futch won the Detroit Athletic Assn. Lightweight championship and a year later the Detroit Golden Gloves. At the Brewster Recreation Center gym, Futch became friends with the local light heavyweight sensation named Joe Louis. The future all-time great often asked Futch to spar with him, saying, "If I can hit you, I know I'm sharp."
[ Q ] What has been your most memorable fight and why?
Winning the world title was definitely the most memorable moment. I beat the champion - Yaseui Yakushiji - in his hometown in Nagoya, Japan and I was the underdog. I wasn't supposed to win so when I did it was so much sweeter. In the amateurs, winning my Olympic Silver medal was the best moment for me. People around the world still talk about that.
[ Q ] Who has been your hardest opponent, and why?
Victor Rabanales was my hardest opponent. It was only my 13th fight but he'd had about 50. He was a former champion and was ranked No. 1 in the world. So I had to fight and beat him to get my title shot. I learned a lot about how tough boxing was in that fight.
[ Q ] How do you deal with fear in the weeks, and moments, before climbing into the boxing ring to fight?
I usually get my nerves about 3-4 weeks before when I'm lying in bed thinking about what is going to happen. I try to imagine my opponent and what I am going to do in the ring. The day of the fight I am the most relaxed person there and I can't wait to get into the ring to do something I love.
[ Q ] What are the effects of fear on a fighter? Does it help or hinder?
Fear in a fighter before a fight will either make or break you. You have gym fighters who are fantastic in the gym but at a real fight they can't cope with the emotion and atmosphere. Then there are the fighters who are not as good in the gym but thrive on the real thing. I fall into the second category!
If you can cope with your nerves then you'll love stepping into the ring the night of a fight.
[ Q ] How has boxing rewarded you? How has it changed you as a person do you think?
Boxing saved my life. Coming from Belfast I could have become caught up in the sectarian problems. Eddie Futch was such a great person that I watched how he treated people and I definitely became more respectful of other people because of him.
| What Does Sectarian Mean?
A person who dissents from the doctrine of an established church.
[ Q ] As a boxer, how would you like to be remembered?
I would like to get the respect for fighting everybody put in front of me. I want people to remember that I never quit and I'd love to be in the Hall of Fame someday.