FOX Friday Night Fights

by Pedro Fernandez

Tomorrow night on FOX Sports, Ireland's favorite son Wayne McCullough makes a return to the squared circle after a nearly 17 month hiatus. The reasons given for the absence are numerous and in some cases frivolous.

But they really don't matter to Wayne. The "Pocket-Rocket" is just glad to be back in the squared circle again. The once beaten Irishman who now calls Las Vegas his home, enters the ring for the 22nd time as a pro Friday night when he meets Mexican strong man Guillermo Noriega in FOX's main event.

Noriega, reportedly 19-5, 13 KO's, has fought primarily in the small arenas on club shows in the state of Sonora, took the fight after Luigi Camputaro pulled out last Friday claiming an injury. He was said to be training for a April 23, fight when he took the McCullough late Friday night.

Noriega and his people feel Wayne is prime for an upset. The Mexican's feel that because of the prolonged layoff, and the fact that McCullough has had two foes already fall out, that they can catch the "Pocket-Rocket" snoozing.

But McCullough has been training earnestly for months. I've seen him at the gym in Las Vegas on a number of occasions recently. And each time I saw the "Pocket-Rocket," he was within seven pounds to ten of his fighting weight of 122 lbs.

A contractual dispute with manager and now promoter Mat Tinley was also a contributing factor to Wayne's long lay off. But that too has been rectified as Wayne explained when he appeared on the Sunday edition of Ring Talk heard on "The Deuce" or Talk America 2.

RT-Hey, I hear you're a Daddy? WM-Yeah, my wife Cheryl gave birth to a healthy baby girl, Wynona Leigh, a couple of weeks ago. RT-What do you think of changing diapers? WM-It's....OK. She's truly wonderful. And I have to tip my hat to my wife and all women. Going 12 rounds is easy Pedro. Going nine months like that and then the actual thing (birth). I was there until the end and it was really something. RT-Howz' Mrs. M handling it? WM-She's already lost most of her weight. She's looking good. RT-Is the baby disrupting your training? How about your sleep? WM-No. Cheryl's got some help from relatives that are staying with us. They take turns waking up. I get to sleep. RT-Your opponent, the second for this fight has pulled out. This guy Noriega, have you got film on him? WM-No. And I do like to look at the guy I'm fighting before we get in the ring. I had a tape of Luigi. They tell me he's 19-5, with 13. RT-Does not having video on a foe mess with your psyche? WM-No, but it's nice to have. Pedro, it doesn't matter who I fight Friday. I'm just glad to be back in the ring. I have a new contract with Mat (Tinley) and AMERICA PRESENTS that I am happy with. RT-There are those who thought you may have lost your zeal for boxing. After all, you've made a lot of money. And they say money softens a fighter. Comment on that? WM-It may in some cases, but not in mine. RT-The new peace accords in Ireland were just announced. What's the "Pocket-Rocket's" spin on that? WM-Pedro, I think a lot of people don't like it and there will be lots of blood spilled over this agreement. RT-Back to Noriega. How do you envision beating a guy you have never seen? WM-Because that is my job. To box and to win. I'm in great shape. A lot of fighters say that after a layoff, but I truly mean it. RT-So, it doesn't matter who you fight Friday night? WM-No.

The AMERICA PRESENTS undercard is one of the best shown on cable in my recent memory. Backing up McCullough and Noriega will be a 12 round lightweight contest pitting L. A.'s unbeaten Ben Tackie, 15-0, 9 KO's, against world ranked Edwin Santana of Boston, who brings a record of 23-2-3, with 8 KO's to the dance.

Also featured as part of the FOX Sports telecast is 1996 Olympian Lawrence Clay-Bey. The bigboy from Hartford, Conn. has shown in just eight fights (8-0, 7 KO's) world class skill and ability

Two other fights featuring undefeated prospects Duncan Dokiwari, 8-0, with all eight wins coming inside the distance. And the Big Apple's light heavyweight sensation Glenn Robinson, 6-0, 5 KO's, will also be appearing on the AMERICA PRESENTS card.

The FOX telecast begins at 8 PM ET (5 PT) on Friday night and will be carried in English on FOX Sports. The Spanish broadcast is carried on FOX Americas.

Pedro Fernandez

The writer can be reached at

Note: Pedro has his own site at He also hosts "Ring Talk" a syndicated radio talk show that is now in it's 12 th year of being on the air. The show is carried by the TALK AMERICA Radio Network coast to coast in the USA with live Internet audio at 11 PM ET both Saturdays and Sundays @

The Saturday show at 11 PM ET is two hours in duration and is heard on TALK AMERICA 1, while the hour long Sunday night show at 11 PM ET is heard on TALK 2 aka "The Deuce." Both have separate audio channels at

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