McCullough out of Point bout due to ‘opponent uncertainty’

WAYNE McCULLOUGH has withdrawn from the undercard of European champion Bernard Dunne’s title defence against Reidar Walstad at the Point Depot a week from tomorrow night.

The former world champion and 1992 Olympic silver medallist had hoped the bout would re-launch his career. He has not boxed since losing to Mexican Oscar Larios in a WBC super bantamweight title fight in Las Vegas in 2005.

Promoter Brian Peters had been working hard to find an opponent for McCullough’s return to The Point but it was reported yesterday that the “Pocket Rocket” had decided to stay in Las Vegas amid what was described as “uncertainty about the arrangement of a suitable opponent.”

Meanwhile, Bernard Dunne puts the finishing touches to his preparations for his European title defence against Reidar Walstad, under trainer Harry Hawkins, at his Belfast base.

“I will spar until Friday and wind down then,” he said. “From here on in it will be a matter of waiting for the hour. I have had some very good spars in recent weeks and I am ready.”

The Dubliner has been going through some tough sparring sessions with two experienced fighters imported by Brian Peters.

“They are two Venezuelan guys and it is quite obvious that they came here to earn their money,” Dunne said. “They are tough and hard and they certainly made me work hard too. So far I have boxed 60 or 70 rounds — maybe more — with them. They are top class and it was serious sparring.”

His trainer, Harry Hawkins had moved to bring in what he described as experienced fighters who had boxed for world titles.

“Apart from the sparring we have been doing a lot of work on strength and speed and general movement,” Dunne said. “I am still learning this game and Harry is working me hard, making me focus and I think that is getting me more focused than ever.”

He said he wants to get this fight out of the way and then sit down with Brian Peters and discuss the next level.

“But I must get this fight out of the way,” he said. “Walstad is coming here to win. Boxers don’t get an opportunity to fight for a European title every day. I have given him that chance but I will just dangle it before him and then pull it away. I won’t taking him for granted. I respect every opponent.”

The fact that Dunne has brought in high-quality sparring partners does not faze the Norwegian who is currently ranked number three in Europe.

“I have set up training camp in London and I’ve also been sparring with some very good fighters,” he said.

Walstad beat Dunne as an amateur when the Dubliner was making his championship debut at the Europeans in 1998 and the Norwegian went on to win the first of two bronze medals.

“The fact that I have already beaten Bernard gives me great confidence,” he said. “Bernard still fights the same way as he did then. He still makes the same mistakes and I’ll take advantage.”

That defeat was one of only 11 suffered by Dunne in an amateur career that saw him rack up 119 wins. Dunne’s record in the professional ranks is even more impressive having racked up 23 straight wins since switching codes in 2001.

The Hunky Dorys’ Fight Night will also see history made with Jill Emery and Angel McKenzie clashing in the first-ever female professional fight to be held in the Republic of Ireland.

The European title fight will bring the curtain down on an exciting week of boxing in Dublin with the European Union Championships at the National Stadium beginning on Monday and ending at 5pm on Saturday.

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