By Jay Mwamba
With his world title hunt in a bit of a lull, Wayne McCullough returned to his Belfast roots recently for a training holiday of sorts under his long-time amateur trainer Harry Robinson.
Now back in Las Vegas, the former World Boxing Council bantamweight champion says he’s bidding his time while awaiting the outcome of Erik Morales’s world super bantamweight title defense against Brooklyn’s Junior Jones in Tijuana, Mexico, on Sept. 14.
"I’m ready to fight after training hard for four weeks in Belfast, but I have no [fight] date. I’ve just got to bid my time," McCullough said last week.
He was a bit disappointed that Junior Jones earned a shot at Morales before him, particularly since the American lost his last fight.
"I’m the mandatory contender and Morales’s mandatory defense was due this September," pointed out McCullough, who is ranked No. 1 by the WBC.
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Even more frustrating for the 1992 Olympic Games silver medalist is that a planned tuneup, on the undercard of last weekend’s (Aug. 15) Kostya Tszyu-Raf’l Ruelas WBC junior welterweight eliminator in El Paso, fell through after the whole card was moved forward from Aug. 29.
McCullough was in Belfast, training at his old gym under Robinson, when the switch was made. Robinson, who developed McCullough’s high-octane fighting style during their 14 years together in the unpaid ranks, put his former charge through 150 rounds of hand boxing with the pads, and some 40 actual rounds of ring sparring.
"It was great. I had a good time," McCullough said, reflecting over the joy of working with Robinson again for the first time since the Olympic Games.
McCullough, whose pro trainer in Las Vegas remains Thell Torrence, is now looking forward to returning to Belfast to fight. "The people really want to see me fight at home," he said. "If I don’t get a fight soon [here], I’d rather got to Belfast and fight there."
His only appearance in his hometown was as eighth-round TKO victory over Denmark’s Johnny Bredahl at King’s Hall, in defense of the WBC bantamweight crown he later relinquished, back in December 1995.
Under the renegotiated 10-fight contract signed with promoter Matt Tinley earlier this year, McCullough is supposed to have three bouts on the Emerald Isle.
He has fought twice under the new deal, improving his pro ledger to 22-1 (14 KOs) with a split-points decision over Colombian Juan Polo Perez in his last outing in May.