Wayne McCullough Tips Arthur to Shine

23.01.06 - Interview by Grant Jeans: Wayne McCullough has tipped Edinburgh’s Alex Arthur to capture a world title in the near future after helping the British, Commonwealth and European champion prepare for his title defence against Ricky Burns on 18th February.

‘Amazing’ Alex Arthur is currently in his fifth week of training with McCullough in Las Vegas and the pair had just completed another gruelling session in the Pocket Rocket Gym when the Irishman took time out to speak on Arthur’s progress.

“Everyone knows that Alex Arthur has a lot more than a one punch knockout, he’s a strong guy, puts the combinations together well and has great all round ability. This is his fourth week with me now and he’ll be returning to Scotland next week.”

The former undefeated WBC bantamweight champion continued, “The change of scenery has done Alex the world of good, he is loving it in Las Vegas. Obviously the weather is a lot sunnier which is good for him when he goes running early in the morning and he’s not getting soaked by the rain.”

Arthur is currently ranked third in the WBC super-featherweight ratings and the two men above him, Erik Morales and Manny Pacquiao, had their rematch at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas on Saturday night, which was also an eliminator to face champion Marco Antonio Barrera. Pacquiao became the first man to stop Morales with a 10th round TKO having twice knocked him down before the referee stepped in. McCullough was ringside working for The Ring magazine and Arthur had also planned to attend.

Theoretically Arthur could face Pacquiao should Barrera opt to stay at lightweight and vacate the WBC super-featherweight belt. Barrera challenges Jesus Chavez on the 25th March for the IBF lightweight title in what could result in the ‘Baby Faced Assassin’ becoming Mexico’s first pugilist to win world titles in four separate divisions.

McCullough is convinced that Arthur will not be fazed should he, as it seems likely, face the aforementioned opponents.

“Alex is a future world champion, without a doubt, he has all the talent in the world. I’m just teaching him some different things that Eddie Futch taught me and now I’m passing them on to Alex. I would put him in with the likes of Erik Morales right now and Alex wouldn’t have a problem. I’ve fought Morales before so I know all about him and Alex could definitely beat him.”

Last week a tabloid newspaper had printed an article with McCullough claiming that Arthur punched harder than fellow countryman Scott Harrison. He was alleged to have said, "I fought Harrison in 2003 and went 12 rounds with him so I know all about his punch power. But having sampled Alex Arthur's body punches during our sparring sessions, I have no hesitation in saying that Arthur is by far the harder and heavier hitter."

However McCullough was bemused when I asked if the story was true and adamant that I was the first interviewer he had spoken to regarding Alex Arthur.

“I never said that. You’re the only person I have spoken to since Alex Arthur started training here. It’s ridiculous because I met Scott last year (Post fight press conference for Morales and Barrera’s third meeting) and I consider him a friend. All these rumours have to stop.”

The article was also inaccurate in stating that McCullough was the ‘former WBC super-bantamweight champion.’

In March 2003 McCullough challenged Scott Harrison for the WBO featherweight crown. Harrison dominated en route to a unanimous decision in what was his first defence of the belt. Harrison will be looking to successfully defend his title for the eighth time when he meets the Dominican Republic’s Joan Guzman on 25th March and as it transpires McCullough will be in a good position to judge both competitors.

“Ironically I have been asked if I would like to spar with Guzman over the next few weeks. He likes to move about and he has got that South American style, he likes to work the angles, but I think that Scott Harrison will beat him.”

McCullough, who was appointed as a World Ambassador for Peace and Goodwill by the WBC last year, also emphasised how serious he was when he offered Naseem Hamed the opportunity to work with him.

“I think if he trained with me then I could get the best out of him. I think he will still possess the ability but does he want it 100%. If he wants to make a comeback then he has to really want it and I think I could help him.”

Regarding his own career, McCullough is planning on returning to the squared circle later in the year despite all the other work he undertakes including his personal training business, plans to open a new gym and writing his excellent autobiography Pocket Rocket: Don’t Quit.

“My promoter Goossen Tutor is working on it at the moment. I was sparring with Kevin Kelley this morning and I’m always training so whenever a fight comes along I’ll be ready.”

In closing McCullough said that he would attend Arthur’s bout with Coatbridge’s Burns.

“Alex wants me there two weeks before the fight in Edinburgh so I’ll be coming over. Alex Arthur can go all the way and become world champion.”

Article posted on 23.01.2006

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