25 February 2009 – By Mark Doyle
Wayne McCullough will make his return to the ring on the Erin Go Brawl II card at the Wamu Theater in Madison Square Garden on March 16.
The Pocket Rocket has not fought since retiring at the end of the sixth in a scheduled ten-rounder against Juan Ruiz last June, in what was the Northern Irishman’s first outing in just under three years.
There had been speculation at the time that the former WBC bantamweight champion was ready to call time on his illustrious career, but only last month he reaffirmed his intention to fight on, even calling out good friend Bernard Dunne.
Indeed, it has now been confirmed that he will box in a co-feature against an as yet unconfirmed opponent on next month’s Andy Lee-Antwun Echols card in New York City.
It has also been announced that promising Irish light-welterweight Dean Byrne has been added to the bill.
The undefeated Dubliner, who boxes out of Freddie Roachs Wildcard Gym in Los Angeles, will be making his first-ever appearance in The Big Apple.
Im looking forward to being in New York City. Ive wanted to fight there for a long time to show everybody what Im capable of,” Byrne enthused.
“Im a great entertainer and love to entertain fans whove paid their hard earned money to come to my fights.
“Ive always dreamed of fighting in Madison Square Garden and to do it in front of so many Irish fans is a great opportunity for me.
“I fought on the Irish Team with Andy Lee. Hes a good friend and a good guy.
“I knew of Wayne McCullough, everybody did back home, but I dont know him. I said hello to him once at a stadium but Im sure he doesnt remember me.
“Im looking forward to meeting him and honoured to be fighting on the same card as Andy and Wayne.
Byrne is now hoping to follow the example of the likes of Steve Collins, John Duddy, Dunne and McCullough, all of whom learned their trade in the States and transform himself into a fighter capable of challenging for world titles.
One of the reasons I came to the U.S. to fight was what they did here, the Crumlin man admitted.
I watched Stevie Collins and the Irish havent had a world champion in 12 years since him. Everything is great here for boxing training, gyms, trainers, and sparring.
A year ago, I was going to Boston from Australia but stopped in Los Angeles, worked out a few times at Wild Card, and then Freddie said I could stay. Ive been there ever since.
Sparring there for a young fighter cant get any better. Mannys an unbelievable fighter and a great person.
Freddie has gotten me to sit down more on my punches. Ive always had power but, hes brought it out of me, and Im much more comfortable.”