By Jay Mwamba
A single punch to the lower back in sparring has reportedly hurt Wayne McCullough more than any of the shots he took from the hard-hitting Naseem Hamed in last October’s world featherweight title match.
McCullough was forced to pull out of his scheduled May 8 bout in Las Vegas with World Boxing Council bantamweight champion Erik Morales after suffering a back injury as a result of the blow in training last week.
The Ulsterman has now been replaced by Juan Carlos Ramirez, a Mexican with a 17-1 (7 KOs) ledger, promoter Bob Arum confirmed. There was no word on if and when the McCullough-Morales fight would be rescheduled.
And in another development, McCullough has reportedly been hit by a million dollar lawsuit by his estranged trainer, Thel Torrance, for services allegedly rendered during McCullough’s preparations for the Hamed fight last year.
According to reports in the Irish media, Torrance’s lawyer, Earl Hawley, claims that: "Thel has a contract with Wayne for training him and he didn’t receive his cut from McCullough’s fight with Hamed."
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Hawley added: "Thel is also suing for his percentage from the Morales fight. For the Hamed fight, they utilized one of Thel’s subordinates [Kenny Croom]."
Disputing the suit, McCullough’s lawyer, Don Nomur, is quoted as saying: "We believe that which is in the lawsuit is unfounded. It’s a contractual dispute but we believe there was a prior breach by Mr. Torrance. The contract had been for trainers Eddie Futch and Thel Torrance to coach Wayne, but Eddie retired. Wayne has kept his part of the contract."
Torrance reportedly blames McCullough’s wife and manager, Cheryl, for his problems with the former world bantamweight champ. "All the problems started when Cheryl took over as manager and started trying to tell me who was training when, when to do it and where," Torrance said.
Of McCullough, the trainer says: "I don’t have a problem with Wayne — he’s a great guy. But I won’t have anybody telling me who trains who and how to do it."