Boxing: Pocket Rocket launches his last hurrah
Published 24/10/2007 | 08:04
Despite the odds stacked against him, Wayne McCullough remains stoically determined to have one more shot at a world title.
Indeed, the courageous little Belfast man feels that European super-bantamweight champion Kiko Martinez can be the perfect sprignboard to such an opportunity.
McCullough and Martinez will clash at the King's Hall on December 1, though the Spaniard's European title will not be on the line but instead they will have a 10-rounder.
The super-bantamweight duel may well be the first of two King's Hall shows within seven days as promoter Brian Peters has plans in place for John Duddy to have his last fight before a world title shot at the same arena on December 8.
Pocket Rocket McCullough has not boxed in two-and-half years, since being stopped in his WBC title rematch with Oscar Larios but believes he can roll back the years and shock Martinez.
The Spaniard is fresh from a stunning 86-second stoppage of Dublin star Bernard Dunne and has world title aspirations of his own.
"The only time I've seen Kiko Martinez fight is when he defeated Bernard Dunne, so I can't take much from that fight. He caught Bernard cold but that's boxing," said McCullough.
"I've been up against the best fighters in the world before so I know what to expect. I'm very grateful that Dennis Hobson has taken a chance on me and given me a great deal to move forward. I've been trying to get back into the ring, especially in the UK or Ireland, and when Dennis stepped up to the plate I was delighted. I'm anticipating a long and successful partnership with him.
"I never look past an opponent and I know Martinez will give me a great fight, but my plan is to go on to fight for another world title in the very near future."
McCullough has not fought in Belfast since his last victory in the ring which was in November 2002 at Maysfield Leisure Centre when defeating Nikolai Eremeev and he is eagerly anticipating returning home for the launch of his comeback.
"I haven't fought in Belfast since 2002 and while I constantly asked for a fight over there, it just didn't happen," he added.
"Even though I've lived in Las Vegas for the past 14 years I never forgot where I come from and my fans have stood by me.
"I can't wait to fight in front of my home fans. I'm really looking forward to it.
"I made the first defence of my WBC bantamweight belt back in 1995 in Belfast and the support I got - and continue to get - from the fans over there is unbelievable. I'm really excited about this fight.
"I'm expecting another great night in the Kings Hall. I can't wait to see the place filled to capacity and hear my fans singing the whole way through."
Fight Academy boss Dennis Hobson, who is promoting the show in association with Team Magee believes McCullough will offer Martinez a test of his resolve.
Hobson said: "This is a clash of youth versus experience, punching power versus the best chin in boxing. Kiko is one of the hardest punchers to emerge in years and he has 14 KOs inside four rounds.
"But in Wayne he meets a man who has taken the best that legends like Naseem Hamed and Erik Morales could throw at him, so it really is the unstoppable force meeting the immovable object."
Heavyweight Audley Harrison may be on the undercard.