By Jay Mwamba
Wayne McCullough’s boxing future was thrown in doubt last week when a MRI before his scheduled super bantamweight bout with Hungarian Sandor Koczek in Belfast last Friday revealed a two-inch cyst on his brain.
A second MRI carried out in Dublin’s Tallaght Hospital was negative, but Irish doctors who looked at both the Dublin and Belfast scans said the cyst still exists.
The non-title match with Koczek was cancelled, and the 30-year-old McCullough, a former world bantamweight champion, was advised to seek a third opinion when he returns to the United States, where he is based.
"They had a look again at the scans [on Friday] and they maintain that the cysts do exist," McCullough’s manager/wife Cheryl was reported as saying in the Irish press.
"The BBBC [British Boxing Board of Control] wouldn’t sanction the fight and we have been advised to seek a third opinion in the U.S. We’ve been told to go to a top neurosurgeon," Cheryl said.
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"Now his health is foremost in our minds and even if he is given the all clear it will be up to him whether he wants to get back into the ring or not. He has a life outside of the ring. He has tons of stuff that interest him. People only know Wayne for his boxing, but he has a very full life outside boxing. Regardless of what the doctors say he’ll take his time before he decides."
Dan Goossen, president of America Presents, which promotes the Belfastman, said there was no way he would allow McCullough to continue with his career until there was absolutely no doubt about his health.
Questions have, however, arisen in the Irish media on why it took seven days to inform the boxer of the results of the first scan, which was taken on Oct. 12 at Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital
McCullough was only informed of the results by the BBBC, boxing’s controlling body in Northern Ireland, on Oct. 19, the day before the Koczek fight. But further tests in Dublin revealed nothing and the fighter was given a clean bill of health.
Facing up the possibility that her popular husband’s career could be over, Cheryl McCullough said: "We always knew that his boxing career would come to an end. But we had hoped that it would be our decision. Obviously, his health is more important than anything. Wayne wants to stay healthy and he wants to be there when
Wynona [their 2-year-old daughter] graduates from high school."
The Las Vegas-based McCullough, who is 23-3 since turning pro eight years ago, has fought some of the best fighters in the world from bantamweight to featherweight.
Renowned for his high work rate, which earned him the nick-name "Pocket Rocket," and a granite chin, his three defeats were all close and disputed decisions to greats Daniel Zaragoza, Prince Naseem Hamed and Erik Morales.
A silver medalist at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, McCullough held the World Boxing Council (WBC) bantamweight crown from 1995 until 1997, when he relinquished it to move up to super bantamweight.