Hamed is offered pounds 1m fight

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Prince Naseem Hamed has been offered pounds 1m for a showdown with Ireland's Wayne McCullough, following the Ulsterman's retention of his World Council title with an eighth-round stoppage of Denmark's Johnny Bredhal at the King's Hall, Belfast, on Saturday.

While the money would be appealing, Hamed would have to reverse through two divisions to fight McCullough at bantamweight. Hamed, who has not had to trim down to the 8st 6lb division for over a year, has progressed to super-bantam and on to the World Organisation featherweight title (9st).

McCullough's American manager, Matt Tinley, said: "Wayne does not need Naseem. He packed out the King's Hall, he is on worldwide television. But if Hamed can work and train hard to fight at bantam, he can have pounds 1m to fight Wayne for the most legitimate title you'll ever have."

McCullough's next outing is scheduled for Dublin in February or March. There appears to be a possibility of him having a dart at the WBC super- bantam crown of the 35-year-old Daniel Zaragoza, or a defence of his own title against another Mexican, Jose Bueno, a winner on the Belfast undercard.

The slender Bredahl fought at high-pace on the retreat, and looked to have done enough to take the first two rounds as McCullough strived to cut off his backward sprint without landing many punches. However, only one of the three judges awarded Bredhal one of those two rounds, on cards of 70-62, 70-63 and 69-65.

Tinley said: "Bredahl was running around after Wayne, looking like Carl Lewis disguised as Bredhal. If there had been a door he would have tried to run out of the ring."

"The referee actually told Bredhal 30 seconds before he ended it that he must throw more punches," said McCullough, who is based in Las Vegas, after only his fourth fight in Ireland as a professional.

"Bredhal didn't want to win. I won every round; he wasn't going to win it by knockout. If the referee had let the fight go on I'd have knocked him out anyway. He took a lot of punishment. We expected him to run, but he didn't run faster than expected."

The intervention of the Mexican referee, Lupe Garcia, after 1min 55sec of the eighth round looked premature, as he had only just told Bredahl to throw more punches.

"I felt a bit anxious fighting before my home crowd. I looked down the tunnel coming in for the fight and I couldn't see the ring," McCullough said. "It was electric, it was unbelievable."