Little venom in the post mortem


Switch-Hitters. By the time of the post-bout press conference, in a huge and airy barn behind the arena, the roles which the fighters had assumed during the week had been reversed.

"He ran away like an amateur," said McCullough from the dais. "You shouldn't do that when you are a champion in the professional game."

"I take my hat off to him," said Hamed. "He has a big heart and a hard head. I like Wayne. I like Ireland. Maybe sometime me and him can hook up and go over there and check out the things what is happenin'."

For a fight which ended with the sound of booing banging about the Boardwalk Convention Centre, there was remarkably little venom to be had at the press conference. The fighters arrived separately, and it was McCullough's promoter and former manager, Mat Tinley, who explained the mood best.

"There were no losers tonight," he said.

Wayne McCullough's face looked slightly puffed, but we have seen him in far worse shape. As he says of himself: "I mark easily."

Hamed, whose nose and lip had bled lightly during the latter stages of the fight, looked to have taken some impact on the right cheek, but was otherwise chipper and well.

"He gave it his best shot in the first three rounds, but then he decided to run away," said McCullough. "He said he was going to put me away but I'm still here. I took all the shots and came back. Let's talk about a big fight in Ireland next February or March. Let's get it on."

There was surprisingly little resistance to the notion of getting it on, a reflection of the feeling in the Sheffield camp that even on a good night McCullough lacks the punch to put the Prince on the seat of his pants.

"I was never hurt," said Hamed, "never stunned, never rocked and never shocked. I was hitting him every round. I reckon I won comfortably. I had a laugh. I had a dance, a shuffle. I wanted to take my time after the third round. I hit him with a left hook and hurt my hand a little bit. I eased off, stood him up a little bit. "He is a lot nicer guy than I thought he was. I take my hat off to him, but I'd love that fight 10 times a week. I'd fight that fight again tomorrow.

"I'm still confident I'm the best featherweight in the world," Hamed continued. "If they want a rematch I'll be more than delighted. I didn't show my boxing ability in that fight. Being in the country only three or four days. But I make no excuses."

There was little enough talk of the possibility that a grave miscarriage of justice had taken place. McCullough suggested in a downbeat way that he thought he might have taken the decision because he had taken the fight to Hamed.

Tinley was the most assertive on the theme.

"You got three guys judging the fight. If you got three different guys, you could get a different outcome," he said. "I don't have a WBO champion. I don't know if I have a fighter ranked in the WBO, so all I can say is I didn't expect any favours.

"But you know what? I'm not crying about it. Everyone judged the fight on what they saw with their own eyes. I would be no more happy if Wayne won the fight. You can't put your whole life in three people judge a fight, three people who work for an organisation closely associated with another promoter."

"I think I showed him that I can win," McCullough added. "A great fighter should get out and fight. The way he fought I could have sat in the corner and had a cup of tea or something. I made the fight. It was flick flick flick. It wasn't hurting though. I was scoring to the body. He was running away like an amateur."

The suggestion of cowardice was the only point which pricked the composure of Hamed's upbeat and ebullient performance at the press conference.

"If I ran away like an amateur, well, I ran like my heroes Ali or Leonard. Did they run away? When you get stupid comments like that - fighters should say `He beat me. He beat me in style, I gave him credit'. I give all my opponents credit. I respect them for just turning up to fight me."

Mostly, though, the talk of the fighters was focused on the future. Hamed engaged in a lengthy and lighthearted debate with a possible American challenger. Both Hamed and McCullough spoke positively about the desire for a rematch.

"We should get it on," insisted McCullough. "Two British fighters fighting in America. It's ridiculous. I don't understand that."

"He deserves everything he gets," noted Hamed. "He deserves a rematch if he wants it."