By Jay Mwamba
Naseem Hamed, boxing’s self-proclaimed prince, and his court are promising Wayne McCullough a harrowing Halloween night when the Belfastman challenges the pint-sized Englishman for the WBO featherweight championship in Atlantic City on Oct. 31.
At a midtown Manhattan press conference last week to formally announce the fight, Hamed’s Dublin-born trainer, Brendan Ingle, warned McCullough that he would be tortured for three rounds then disposed of.
"That little guy," said Ingle, pointing at Hamed, "will beat him up and torture him for three rounds, and then knock him out."
"We’ve been looking for a fight with McCullough for a long time," added Frank Warren, Hamed’s promoter, while the ever brash Hamed himself weighed in with an ominous remark. "This is Wayne’s last fight," he said.
"I am going to do a demolition job on him," Hamed continued, predicting a knockout between the third and fifth rounds.
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McCullough, a former world bantamweight champion who will be going up in weight to face the dynamite punching Hamed, remained unruffled throughout the diatribe before replying with his own prediction.
"I’ll be ready," he said. "I have a good chin and I can throw punches. I will be standing at the end."
The bad blood between McCullough and Hamed goes back nearly three years when Hamed claims McCullough tried to upstage him when they both fought on the same card in Dublin.
Efforts by McCullough’s handlers to lure Hamed into the ring after that failed, and it was only after the WBO titlist was unable to accept a challenge from American Kennedy McKinney that the McCullough fight was made.
As indicated by his camp’s bluster, the 24-year-old Hamed is the betting favorite to make his 11th successful title defense and extend his professional record to 31-0.
McCullough, who’s 27 and 22-1 as a pro, is gunning for his second world championship after relinquishing the WBC bantamweight crown two years ago.
McCullough’s lone defeat was a split points decision loss to Mexican Daniel Zaragoza in January 1997.
Hamed vs. Ingle
Even as they promise McCullough a Halloween’s night
beating to remember, all is not well between Hamed and his Irish mentor of 17 years.
The boxer’s relationship with Ingle has been tenuous since the recent publication of Ingle’s book, "The Prince and the Paddy," narrating his life with Hamed.
In the book, Ingle reportedly accuses Hamed of obnoxious behavior, cruelty and of having become obsessed with money.
Hamed said he’d never trust Ingle again, but would continue to train under him.
Ingle, however, hopes that the unsuspecting McCullough will pay for the fallout from the "The Prince and the Paddy."
"What Naz wanted to do to me but can’t because I’m too old, he’ll do to McCullough," Ingle said.