By Jay Mwamba
Former World Boxing Council bantamweight champ Wayne McCullough gave his stalled career a massive jumpstart in Las Vegas last Saturday with a spectacular second-round KO over Kansas City featherweight Alvin Brown at the Cox Pavilion.
McCullough, who’s 31, ended a 27-month layoff that followed the discovery of a cyst in his head with his first stoppage win since dispatching Johnny Bredhal in eight rounds six years ago.
The Ulsterman showed no signs of ring rust as he pressed the 32-year-old Brown from the opening bell in the scheduled 10-rounder, on the undercard of the WBA/WBO junior lightweight unification match between Cuban Joel Casamayor and Acelino Freitas. The Brazilian decisioned Casamayor, who beat McCullough for the gold medal in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
After softening Brown up with a relentless body attack, McCullough dropped his weary foe with a rattling left hook two minutes into the second round.
Brown beat the count but was set upon by McCullough, who punctuated another barrage to the body and head with a left hook to the ribs that ended the Missouri native’s misery.
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“It’s good to be back,” McCullough said after his brief outing, which was televised nationally by Showtime. “I haven’t had a knockout in six years and this guy was a real guy [with a] 17-4 [record].”
On if he felt any ring rust, McCullough, who estimates that he sparred some 150 rounds, said he’d been in the gym for two years and had worked hard with trainer Kenny Groom.
McCullough improved to 24-3 (15 KOs) and put himself in contention for another big fight against one of the big names in the 122- and 127-pound divisions.
The list of possible opponents includes current WBC super bantamweight titlist Willie Jorrin, featherweight king Marco Antonio Barrera and old rival Naseem Hamed, who holds a points win over the Irishman from October 1998.
Barrera, however, is McCullough’s preferred opponent. “Once I get four or five fights behind me, I would love to fight Barrera,” he said.
Prior to the Brown fight, the Belfast-born fighter’s last bout was a 12-round loss to Erik Morales on Oct. 22, 1999 for the super bantamweight title.
McCullough was in Belfast for a non-title bout with European super bantamweight champ Sandor Koczek in October 2000 when a MRI revealed what appeared to be a two-inch cyst on his brain, leading to his suspension and the cancellation of the fight.
Further tests in the United States, however, showed that the cyst was in his head but not on the brain. And after being examined by leading American neurosurgeons, McCullough was cleared to resume his career.
But the British Boxing Board of Control has since refused to license him and denied him permission to fight under its jurisdiction in Britain.
Putting the matter to rest, McCullough said: “The British Board told me that one more blow to the head was going to kill me. [But] every doctor that has looked at has cleared me. I’ve had 14 of the top neurological surgeons around the world and four of them were the British Boxing Board’s own, and they won’t clear me.”
He dismissed notions that continuing with his career would jeopardize his