Back in the day - Nov 1 1998: Ringside punch-ups mar McCullough v Hamed US bout

AT CLOSE QUARTERS...Wayne McCullough and Naseem Hamed get to grips with each other during their WBO featherweight title clash in Atlantic City
The Irish News Archive

ATLANTIC City police and fight stewards at Saturday’s WBO world featherweight title clash, which Wayne McCullough lost on points to Naseem Hamed, were involved in running battles and arrests at the Convention Centre as drunken fans ran riot.

A series of small bust-ups between Arab and English supporters of Hamed and McCullough’s massive Irish support, which numbered close to 5,000, threatened to spill over before the main match started.

The atmosphere was electric, and increasing tense, during the pre-fight build-up, and sporadic outbreaks of fighting in the stalls were quickly dealt with by police and security guards.

After the result was announced the scene at the arena turned even uglier.

The decision sparked a volley of abuse hurled at officials, and within minutes the main exit point was a mass of violent exchanges between groups of rivals fans.

A frightening free-for-all erupted at one stage, with police moving in in large numbers to break up the unofficial sparring, with a number of arrests believed to have taken place.

Without doubt alcohol was a factor in the fighting.

Large groups arrived at the arena from 7.00pm local time, many showing signs of considerable alcohol consumption.

A black mark against spectators, it still could not overshadow what was a wonderful display of attacking grit and class from Ireland’s young fighting hero.

McCullough went up in so many people’s estimations with his performance against the Prince.

The Belfast man immediately called for a re-match after accusing Hamed of “running like an amateur”.

It all added up to the least impressive of Hamed’s 12 world title fights.

The unanimous verdict was booed loudly by the big Irish contingent in an 8,138 crowd at the Atlantic City Convention Centre, and the word ‘exposed’ was on the lips of some ringsiders.

Hamed had predicted a third-round knockout, but McCullough dug in and grinned at the champion when he survived the crucial session.


Wayne McCullough and Naseem Hamed hard at it in Atlantic City




Volvo Masters

Clarke takes first place but Monty wins on Merit

Europe’s number one golfer yet again – for an amazing sixth time in a row despite Darren Clarke winning the Volvo Masters at Montecastillo in Spain.

Third place in a thrilling season-ending Volvo Masters put the 35-year-old Scot king of the castle yet again. Not even a course recordequalling 63 from Clarke could dethrone him.

The brilliant round gave Clarke his fourth European tour victory – by two strokes from another Scot, Andrew Coltart, with a 17 under par total of 271.

But it was not enough to kick Montgomerie off the top spot he has held, quite astonishingly, since 1993.

Montgomerie had to finish eighth to keep Clarke at bay and made it look easy, shooting a 68 to be one behind Coltart on 14 under.

In the end he could have scored 72 and still been number one.


AT CLOSE QUARTERS...Wayne McCullough and Naseem Hamed get to grips with each other during their WBO featherweight title clash in Atlantic City

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