Boxing: McCullough's Recovery Trail Leads Back to Belfast
Bunce, Steve, The Independent (London, England)
WAYNE McCULLOUGH took Eddie Futch for a walk one day down the Shankill Road to show the veteran American trainer, who was 81 at the time, the Belfast streets where he had grown up. He wanted to show his trainer that he knew about fighting.
It was the day before McCullough's first fight as a professional and tonight he returns to the same venue, the Maysfield Leisure Centre, nine years later, without Futch, who died last year, but with the same desire to win a world title he possessed in 1993.
"I can remember that fight clearly and I can remember showing Eddie my Belfast," McCullough said. "It was a crazy atmosphere in there on that night and I know that even Eddie was surprised."
At the time McCullough, who had won the silver medal at the Olympics 10 months earlier, was considered to be the natural successor to Barry McGuigan. He had turned professional with an unknown American television executive called Matt Tinley, who was 31 at the time, and it took the boxer 29 months to win the World Boxing Council bantamweight title in a hard fight they were forced to accept in Nagoya, Japan.
McCullough returned to Belfast for his first defence in December 1995 but his easy stoppage of Denmark's Johnny Bredahl never quite managed to capture the public's imagination and he has not fought there since. There was a defence in Dublin in March of 1996 before McCullough returned to his home in Las Vegas.
"I always wanted to get back in the ring in Belfast but for a variety of reasons it never happened and then the big fights came and Belfast seemed to move further and further away," McCullough admitted. …