Prizefighter: Casey to replace injured Wayne McCullough; Arthur laying his career on the line at York Hall

A hand injury has forced Wayne McCullough to withdraw from Prizefighter Super-Bantamweights at York Hall, Bethnal Green on Saturday May 29.

Former WBC world champion McCullough had been training hard to make his comeback in Barry Hearn’s latest eight-man, one night tournament but the 39 year-old has been advised that he will be unable to fight for at least two months..

“I am really devastated to be missing out on Prizefighter but the hand injury is pretty bad,” said McCullough. “My Doctor has advised me not to use the hand at all for training or fighting for the next 6-8 weeks. We are all packed and ready to go and we really wanted to be there but this is boxing and these things happen.”

McCullough’s misfortune has thrown a golden opportunity to young Irish fighter Willie “Big Bang” Casey to take his hero’s place and battle for the Prizefighter crown. The big punching Casey, who has four knockout victories in his unbeaten five fight career, is sure to be a danger man on an explosive night.

“He was an idol to me and I really looked up to him when I was starting out,” said Casey. “I followed his career from after the 1992 Olympics, he fought some great Mexicans and took on Naseem Hamed and I remember watching those fights.

“I don't feel under pressure as his replacement though, it’s more excitement - although it would've been so great to fight him and I know his style would suit me. But I'm just delighted to be in Prizefighter and it's my chance to prove that I can make it to the top.”

The 28 year-old from Limerick comes into the fight after an impressive victory over previously undefeated Canadian Super-Bantamweight champion Tyson Cave, flooring him four times en-route to his fourth KO victory – Casey promises Prizefighter fans that his style of fighting is made for the format.

“They don't call me Big Bang for nothing - I like a good scrap,” said Casey. “I like to get in there and I like boxers who like to get involved as it makes the fights more exciting. Cave was 10-0 before he faced me and I went over to Canada and beat him so my confidence is sky high going into this.”

With less than a fortnight before York Hall opens its doors to the eight contenders, Casey dismissed any suggestions that he would be under-cooked going into Prizefighter as a late replacement.

“I train for every type of fight and every type of scenario and I prepare for everything - last minute replacements, change of fighters, anything,” said Casey. “You have to prepare for everything in this game as anything can happen at the last minute - mentally and physically you have to be ready for that and I am.

“I'm an exciting fighter and the last thing people want to do with me is take me lightly. Don't look at my record and think "he's only fought five times" - you don't want to take any chances with Big Bang.”

Tickets for Prizefighter Super-Bantamweights are available now at £35 (unreserved), £60 (ringside) and £100 (VIP) – call Matchroom Sport on 01277 359900.

Win or bust for Arthur in Prizefighter - Welshman laying his career on the line at York Hall

Jamie Arthur says that defeat at Prizefighter Super Bantamweights at York Hall, Bethnal Green on Saturday May 29 will spell the end of his career.

The 2002 Commonwealth Games winner fought Martin Lindsay for the British featherweight title in March and although Lindsay won on points, he praised the Welshman for his character after the fight, and it was a display that convinced Arthur to go for broke in Barry Hearn’s latest eight-man, one night tournament.

“If I lose Prizefighter - I'm done,” said Arthur. “I know I'm taking a massive gamble. Martin and I had a good tear up and I felt good after. If anything, I didn't do myself harm by losing, my reputation is still intact.

“There could be an opportunity to fight at super-bantamweight and work my way up to a British title that way, that could be in the next two or three moves. I know no-one is going to want to touch me if I lose Prizefighter. This is the balance of my career but that's what life is about, you only get places if you go out on a limb and take a chance.”

The 30 year-old – who replaced Craig Lyon in the line-up – may be taking a gamble but he says it’s a calculated one as should he win, the Pontypridd man hopes the big fights will come his way.

“I'm not sure whether I am at the bottom of the pile after losing to Lindsay, there's boys like John Simpson and other guys working their way up, but if I win Prizefighter I'm right back in the mix again,” said Arthur – who has won 16 of his 19 fights. “That's what boxing is all about, the public want to see good title fights and every fight I've been in has been exciting fights. If I don't get them, I guess I'll just have to hang them up.

With the line-up now settled, Arthur is well aware that he is one of the bigger names on the bill, but claims he should not be a favourite after getting the call with less than a fortnight before the big night.

“There's definitely a target on my head and I'm the man to beat, but I look at it that I have had less time to prepare than most of them so in my mind I'm the underdog,” said Arthur. “In every interview for every fight I've had, I've always said I want to be the underdog, not the guy that the rest want to knock off their pedestal, because that adds more pressure. I'm here to win it and I'm here with just 12 days notice - sometimes things happen for a reason and we're thrown into situations and told "sink or swim" - this is one of those situations.

“Make no mistake, anyone of the eight fighters can win this Prizefighter, all you have to do is go like a bull out of a gate for three rounds and that's what makes it interesting - it's revived boxing for me.”

There’s a strong Welsh presence on the night with unbeaten Swansea fighter Ricky Owen and Newport’s Robbie Turley hoping to pick up the £32,000 winner’s cheque and follow in the footsteps of Gavin Rees, the Prizefighter Light Welterweight champion from Newbridge.

“I think it's a dead cert that I'll be drawn against a Welshman but this is business, we're here to do the best we can,” said Arthur. “There could easily be an all-Welsh final and a Welsh winner. Rees has won this and he beat another Welshman Jason Cook in the semis – the Welsh contingent has always been strong but no matter where we're from, everyone is just here gagging to win it.

Arthur said his Commonwealth Games experience would be vital on the night, saying that the draw format is a test of a fighter’s ability to react to change.

“I'm quite adaptable so it depends what my opponent does - I'm an intelligent enough guy to box a guy into the fight I want to suit my strengths,” said Arthur. “I'm here to win this - I don't take any opportunities that I don't feel I can win.

“I only want to fight in the most exciting contests that I can - Commonwealth, European and British title and Prizefighter of course - I want to be in the mix of things. I'm not interested in fighting on six or eight round bills in small halls and trying to work my way back up - I'm 30 years old and a qualified draughtsman so I can make a living out of work rather than dedicating all my time and effort in struggling along in boxing. If I'm going to do this I want to be up there at the pinnacle fighting the best - when I looked at this line-up with the likes of Esham Pickering in it and some undefeated fighters too - any of us can with this tournament, it's up to who performs on the night and who has the best game plan.

Tickets for Prizefighter Super-Bantamweights are available now at £35 (unreserved), £60 (ringside) and £100 (VIP) – call Matchroom Sport on 01277 359900.

Article posted on 18.05.2010

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