Boxing

McCullough and Dunne Back In Action on June 23

10.05.07 - Reidar “The Viking” Walstad arrived in Dublin today to predict the end of Bernard Dunne’s reign as European Champion. The two men came head to head today for a press conference ahead of their Hunky Dorys Fight Night at the Point on June 23rd. The press conference took place at the Dublinia and Viking World Heritage Centre in Dublin’s Christchurch and Walstad has promised that the city is set for another Viking raid this summer..

Walstad’s prediction carries some serious weight given that he already holds a win over Dunne. The two men clashed at the European Amateur Championships in 1998 and Walstad claimed Dunne’s scalp en route to winning a Bronze medal.

It was just one of many honours won by Walstad during a glittering amateur career that saw him win 10 Norwegian titles. Since turning professional in 2002 Walstad has racked up an impressive record of 16 wins, one defeat and a draw. That lone defeat came in 2004 when he was stopped after sustaining a bad cut over his left eye.

Walstad also has 10 knockouts to his name and has established a reputation as one of the hardest hitters to emerge from Scandinavia in recent years. This short video clip proves that he can certainly hit: http://www.walstad.biz/video/helsinkiknockout.wmv

The current European number 3 Walstad has been kept waiting for his chance having been eligible for a title shot for almost 2 years now. The Norwegian was avoided by Michael Hunter throughout his reign as European Champion but he finally gets his shot against Dunne on June 23rd and he’s determined to make it count.

The 30-year-old from Trondheim said, “There is going to be another Viking invasion in June and I know the European title is coming back to Norway. This is the title I want, for me the European title is more important to me than winning a World title because there is only one European title but there are many versions of the World title. Sure after I beat Bernard I would like to win a World title but Bernard’s belt is the one I really want.”

Walstad is confident of repeating his amateur success over Dunne and feels the champion is tailor made for him. “I beat Bernard in the first round of the European Championships in Minsk back in 1998. I went on to win a Bronze at those championships and I beat Bernard by a score of 9 – 2.

“I’ve followed his career as a professional and seen a lot of his recent fights. He’s made some changes but basically his style is the same as when we last met. It’s a style that really suits me and I feel very confident about this fight.”

The champion though will have other ideas. A second successful defence would push the Dubliner another step closer to the top of the World ratings. The 27-year-old is currently rated in the top 10 of the major World sanctioning bodies ratings.


Return of the Mac

A special attraction on the Hunky Dorys Fight Night on June 23rd is the return of former World Champion and Olympic medallist Wayne McCullough. The “Pocket Rocket” has been out of the ring for almost two years but the Las Vegas based Belfast man says he still hasn’t given up hope of claiming a second World title.

McCullough became a national hero with his Olympic exploits in Barcelona back in 1992. He last fought in Dublin in 1995 when he made the last defence of his world title against Jose Luis Bueno at the Point.

Now over 12 years later and having begun a second career as a successful trainer he’s back to prove that’s there still more fuel in the Pocket Rocket tank.

“It will be great to fight in Dublin again”, said McCullough. “It’s been too long since my last fight there and I’ve always wanted to fight in front of the Dublin fans again.

“When I signed with Frank Warren a few years back the plan was to fight in Belfast and Dublin. I got to fight in Belfast but a Dublin fight never came off so I’m delighted that Brian Peters has given me the chance to fight there again.

“He’s been on to me over the last couple of years to fight in Dublin but the timing wasn’t right as I always had commitments to other fighters I was training but when the date suited me perfectly this time round so I jumped at the chance.”

It’s been two years since McCullough’s last fight (an unsuccessful bid for Oscar Larios’ World title) but the Belfast man believes that the layoff might actually work in his favour.

“People think I’ve been around forever but I’ve actually only had 33 fights as a pro. Most of the guys who turned pro at the same time as me have had nearly double that amount of fights but for various reasons I’ve had long periods of inactivity throughout my career.

“Those times have been very frustrating but on the plus side they’ve kept me fresh. I’m never out of the gym so I’m always in shape and always sharp but obviously you sill need to get the rounds under your belt in the ring so that’s why after this fight I want to stay busy.”

With both McCullough and Dunne fighting in the super bantamweight weight class an all Irish clash between the two friends has often been mooted. McCullough feels it’s unlikely but is refusing to rule it out completely.

“It’s natural people are going to suggest it I don’t see the point in me fighting Bernard unless there is a world title on the line. It’s like people suggesting that Andy Lee and John Duddy should fight simply because they’re both Irish. I don’t see the point in that unless there is something significant on the line and I think it’s the same with me and Bernard.

First and foremost Bernard is a good friend of mine and I’m also a fan of his. We go back a long way, but boxing is a business at the end of the day and just because you get in the ring with someone it doesn’t mean you have to stop being friends with them. Mickey Ward and Arturo Gatti proved that and now Mickey is even training Arturo so maybe that might happen with me and Bernard someday!”

Promoter Brian Peters says he’s thrilled to have McCullough on the card. “I think Wayne has been one of our greatest ever fighters. You only have to look at the names on his record to see that. He won his world title the hard way by going to Japan, and then went on to fight some of the best pound for pound fighters in the world. He’s a terrific ambassador for Irish boxing and I’m delighted to have him on the show. I think he’ll be a big hit with the fans.”


Fagan back on home soil

The Hunky Dorys Fight Night at the Point on June 23rd will also feature an appearance by reigning Irish Light Welterweight champ Oisin Fagan. The Oklahoma based Dubliner is coming of a disputed split decision loss against former World Champion Paul Spadafora and is determined to build on his impressive performance in that fight.

Also making a return to Dublin is leading Polish prospect Lukasz Wawrzyczek who impressed on his Irish debut in March with a win on the last Hunky Dorys Fight Night.

This time around Wawrzyczek will be up against local opposition when he takes on Belfast battler Ciaran Healy over 8 rounds.

Further exciting bouts will be confirmed over the coming weeks.

Tickets priced from €60 are available from Ticketmaster and all usual outlets from 9am on Friday, May 11th.

Article posted on 11.05.2007



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