WAYNE The Pocket Rocket McCULLOUGH (27-5, 18 KOs )
- World championship fights 3-5
- Former WBC bantamweight world champion, two successful defenses
- Former NABF bantamweight champion, one successful defense
- 1992 Olympic silver medalist for Ireland , 119 pounds
- 1888 Olympic representative for Ireland , 106 pounds
Now 34 years old, Wayne has been fighting as a pro for over 11 ½ years. He won the WBC bantamweight world title in July, 1995, and made two successful defenses before he moved up in weight in January, 1997. He has challenged unsuccessfully for world titles four times since then at 122 and 126 pounds.
Wayne recently KO'd journeyman, Mike Juarez in his first fight back since his loss in March, 2003, against WBO featherweight world champion Scott Harrison. Wayne said, I've never felt like this before, because I'm coming off a bad defeat and I do still think about that. This is going to be a massive fight for me. I just need to get through this one, and then I'll have my confidence right back.
The plan is to have another fight in November, and I would like to have four fights altogether before getting a world title shot next summer, ten years on from when I won the WBC title in Japan.
I'm looking to get a world title at super bantamweight. I'll start off at featherweight, and work my way down. A fight with Oscar Larios for the WBC title is a real possibility, or maybe a fight with the Frenchman Mahyar Monshipour , who has the WBA belt, or the IBF champion Israel Vasquez . I have always wanted to win one of the big titles again.
Wayne has had several other long layoffs in his career. He returned to the ring in January, 2002, after more than two years off. He had been scheduled to fight in Belfast a year earlier, but the bout was canceled by the British Boxing Board of Control after an MRI test showed he had a cyst on his brain. He has since been medically approved to fight, and was licensed by the Nevada Athletic Commission in February, 2001. Wayne said, I've been cleared by 10 different neurosurgeons. Wayne also didn't fight for 15 months from January, 1997, to April, 1998.
Wayne said, I had a couple of years of inactivity. Sometimes it helps the fires, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes you train so hard, and boxing gets to you a little bit, you just do it for the sake of doing it instead of enjoying it. I had two tough fights back-to-back, Hamed and Morales, and then 27 months off. But those months off, I wasn't taking punishment, but I stayed in the gym every day. I was learning stuff, as well, different moves and settling down a bit.
Some fighters get easy sparring partners, and you don't get anything out of it, really. I always pick guys that are going to push me to my limits. I want to get as tough sparring as possible.
Most people think because I throw a lot of punches there's no snap on them, but there is. I don't have one-punch power, but I've got power, enough to keep you backing up, keep you thinking. I'm hoping to stop him in the middle rounds. Hamed and Morales both said they would fight me toe-to-toe, but when they got in there they realized they couldn't. They said there was too many punches coming at them. If you look at most guys' faces, even when I fought Morales, his face was in pieces.
Eddie Futch , my old coach who passed away, he always said, Let them think what they want, because they look at you and you're just a little skinny wicket.' They think I have no power at all. But once the fight's over, you've never heard anybody say that I didn't have any power. Eddie always thought it was funny, he always laughed at that. He was a great guy. I miss him.
Regarding his nickname, Wayne said, I got that back in 1988. I was on the Olympic team, I was only like, 17 and I fought at 105 pounds. I was like, five-foot two at the time. One of my buddies, he was a guy called Kirin Joyce , called me Pocket' because I fit in your pocket. I actually threw more punches then than I do now, and they called me Rocket.' So I've had it since then.
Wayne has fought 10 current or former world champions Scott Harrison (L12), Erik Morales (L12) , Naseem Hamed (L12) , Juan Polo-Perez (W10) , Daniel Zaragoza (L12) , Jose Luis Bueno (W12) , Johnny Bredahl (TKO8) , Yasuei Yakushiji (W12) , Fabrice Benichou (W10) , and Victor Rabanales (W12) .
Key Fights 2003 - WBO F WORLD TITLE CHALLENGE - in his last fight on 3-22-03 in Glasgow, SCOT, he lost a 12 round unanimous decision against defending champion Scott Harrison (18-1-1): Harrison dominated the fight and gave Wayne a severe beating; Harrison consistently outworked him and landed the harder punches, and rocked Wayne with a series of punches in the 6 th and 8 th rounds; Wayne was bruised and swollen around both eyes and on his left ear at the final bell; scored 120-108, 119-108, 119-109; after the fight, Wayne said, He was better and stronger than I thought he'd be. That's why I couldn't mix it up. He hurt me early on. He's unbelievably strong. It wasn't a matter of size, it was strength. I could still jab with him, but his strength is unbelievable. ; Wayne complained of feeling faint in the dressing room after the fight, and was taken on a stretcher to Southern General Hospital, where he held for two days and treated for dehydration
2002 - on 11-2-02 in Belfast , IRE, he TKO'd Nikolai Eremeev (18-5-3): Wayne swarmed over Eremeev with nonstop punches from the opening bell, staggered him in the 4 th round, and Eremeev's corner stopped the fight at 2:55; after the fight, Wayne said, It was an emotional night. It was good to be back. I've only had three fights in Belfast in 10 years. The fans are unbelievable. I was pleased with my body shots. It was Mike McCallum who taught me those. I got warned for going low, but that didn't stop me and I knew that I was hurting him. I'm slowing down a little bit, but I still throw too many punches for most fighters. I'm ready for another world title.
On 9-14-02 in Bethnal Green, ENG, he TKO'd South African bantamweight champion Johannes Maisa (17-3) in the 4 th round; after the fight, Wayne said, I want to fight more and I want to be world champion again. I want to get another three fights in before April. I want to be busy. I'm 32 years old so I have got to stay busy.
On 1-12-02 in Las Vegas , NV , he knocked out Alvin Brown (17-4): Wayne scored two knockdowns in the 2 nd round, and Brown was counted out at 2:43
1999 WBC SB WORLD TITLE CHALLENGE - on 10-22-99 in Detroit, MI, he lost a 12 round unanimous decision against defending champion Erik Morales (34-0): it was an exciting fight with nonstop action throughout, and both fighters showed tremendous talent, determination and heart; Wayne kept a busy pace, but Morales consistently landed the harder, more accurate punches; the fight earned a standing ovation from the crowd; scored 116-112, 116-112, 118-110
On 8-30-99 in Las Vegas , NV , he won a 10 round unanimous decision against Len Martinez (17-5-1); Wayne dominated the fight, but was penalized one point in the 4 th round for a low blow; scored 99-90, 99-90, 99-89
1998 - WBO F WORLD TITLE CHALLENGE - on 10-31-98 in Atlantic City he lost a 12 round unanimous decision against defending champion Naseem Hamed (30-0): Wayne constantly pressured Hamed, but Hamed was very elusive, showboated for the entire fight, and Wayne could never corner him; scored 116-112, 117-111, 118-110
On 5-19-98 in Corpus Christi, TX, he won a 10 round split decision against former IBF jr. bantamweight world champion Juan Polo-Perez (39-16-3): Polo-Perez started fast and built a lead, but Wayne rallied in the middle rounds; Wayne was penalized one point in the 9 th round for low blows, and barely edged Polo-Perez on the scorecards - 95-94, 95-94 McCullough, 95-94 Polo-Perez......
On 4-17-98 in Uncasville , CT , he won a 10 round unanimous decision against Antonio Salas (14-13): Wayne shut out Salas on the scorecards
1997 WBC SB WORLD TITLE CHALLENGE - on 1-11-97 in Boston, MA, he lost a 12 round split decision against defending champion Daniel Zaragoza (53-7-3): Zaragoza outworked Wayne for much of the first 10 rounds and built a lead on the scorecards; Wayne came back with a tremendous rally in rounds 11 and 12 and nearly stopped Zaragoza, but couldn't catch up on the scorecards; scored 116-112, 116-112 Zaragoza, 115-114 McCullough
1996 - on 7-13-96 in Denver he won a 10 round unanimous decision against Julio Cardona (23-11), scored 100-90, 99-92, 97-93...
2 ND WBC B WORLD TITLE DEFENSE - on 3-20-96 in Dublin, IRE, he won a 12 round split decision against former WBC champion Jose Luis Bueno (28-6-1): it was a hard-fought bout, scored 118-114, 116-112, McCullough, 116-113 Bueno...
1995 - 1 ST WBC B WORLD TITLE DEFENSE - on 12-2-95 in Belfast, IRE, he TKO'd previously undefeated former WBO jr. bantamweight world champion Johnny Bredahl (25-0): Wayne dominated the fight and stopped Bredahl at 1:55 of the 8 th round; after seven rounds, Wayne led by scores of 70-63, 70-62, 69-65; Bredahl currently holds the WBA bantamweight world title
WON WBC B WORLD TITLE - on 7-30-95 in Nagoya, Japan, he won a 12 round split decision against defending champion Yasuei Yakushiji (24-2-1): it was a fiercely competitive fight; Wayne constantly pressured Yakushiji, trapped him on the ropes repeatedly, outworked and outboxed him; Wayne was the clear winner, but the decision was split - 118-110, 116-113 McCullough, 116-115 Yakushiji; no British boxer had ever before won a world title in Japan
On 3-14-95 in Kenner , LA , he TKO'd Geronimo Cardoz (22-6-2): Wayne wore him down, and Cardoz did not continue after the 7 th round
1994 - on 11-12-94 in Dublin he won a 10 round decision against former IBF jr. featherweight champion and two-time European champion Fabrice Benichou (36-14): a crowd of 6,000 roared their support for Wayne; Benichou pressed forward in every round and rocked Wayne in the 9 th round with a right hand, but Wayne dominated most of the fight and won by a score of 100-91 in the British scoring system
On 9-15-94 in Las Vegas he knocked out Andres Cazares (21-10) in the 3 rd round
1 ST NABF B DEFENSE WBC TITLE ELIMINATOR - on 6-17-94 in Atlantic City he won a 12 round unanimouis decision against No. 1 ranked former WBC bantamweight champion Victor Rabanales (37-12-2): it was a tremendous fight - both fighters threw nonstop punches for 12 rounds, but Wayne's greater speed and accuracy made the difference; Wayne was staggered badly in the 2 nd round and rocked several times later in the fight; but he came back and boxed and moved effectively in the late rounds; scored 116-110, 117-110, 115-113
WON NABF B TITLE - on 1-18-94 in Omaha , NB , he TKO'd previously undefeated Javier Medina (9-0-1): Wayne won every round, scored two knockdowns in the 7 th round, and stopped Medina in the 7 th
He debuted at the age of 22 on 2-23-93
AMATEUR, PERSONAL BACKGROUND: 1992 Olympic silver medalist, 119 pounds: in his first fight in Barcelona, Wayne won a 28-7 decision against Fred Mutuweta of Uganda; in his second bout, Wayne won a 10-2 decision against Ahmed Ghmim of Iraq; in the quarter-finals, Wayne won a 31-13 decision against Mohammed Nabo of Nigeria; in the semi-finals, Wayne won a 21-16 decision against Gwang Li-Sik of North Korea; in the finals, Wayne lost a 14-8 decision to Joel Casamayor of Cuba; it was Ireland's first Olympic boxing medal in 36 years
Looking back, Wayne said, The first three bouts weren't that hard, but then I had the toughest fight of my life against Gwang Li-sik, the Korean, in the semifinals. It was like fighting against a wall. I won, but not before he broke my cheekbone in three places. After the fight my face was swollen but I didn't think anything about it. I was in the Olympic final and that's all that mattered. before the finals, the Olympic doctors did not discover the fractures; Wayne said, They just did a normal examination. Nobody feels your face during a normal exam. They would only have found it if I told them. I didn't. ; in his next fight, Casamayor landed a jab on Wayne 's broken cheek; Wayne said, I couldn't see for about 30 seconds. Nothing. If you look at the tapes, you can see me trying to fight with one eye closed. After that, every time he hit me it felt like an electric shock. After two rounds, I knew I was down 10-2, but I thought I could still beat him. He was a runner, but I didn't think he could run forever. In the last round, I shook him a few times and I almost had him over. He even told Hernandez when it was over that he was glad to hear the final bell. He won 14-8, but I know I hit him a lot more than that. That's the trouble with computer scoring, you punch a guy's head off with a combination and all you get, if you are lucky, is one point. Actually, I have some numbness on the left side of my face still. But it gets better every year, I think.
1988 Olympic representative for Ireland, 106 pounds: Wayne was 17 years old in the second series of bouts, he won a 5-0 decision against Fred Mutuweta of Uganda; in the third series of bouts, he lost a decision against Scotty Olson of Canada; Wayne said, I won the last round, but Scotty was too strong for me. He hurt me to the body and gave me two standing counts in the first round. But in the amateurs, I always lost the first round. I always won the last round. When I did lose, it was because I had run out of time. ; it was Wayne 's first international competition, and first time outside of Ireland
Wayne started boxing at the age of eight with his two older brothers and boxed as an amateur for 14 years; neither brother still boxes he reportedly had 200 amateur fights (190-10)...
Wayne and his wife Cheryl have one daughter, Wynona, who is six years old
STRENGTHS: At his best, he wears down opponents with relentless pressure and nonstop punches...a good body puncher...tough and durable has good stamina, can keep a fast pace for 12 full rounds...is experienced against top opposition had a strong amateur background