9 February 2011 – Jonny Stapleton
Paul McCloskey mimicked US President Barack Obama at the Belfast launch of his WBA light welterweight world title challenge on Wednesday, and declared Yes we Khan.
The European Champion is deemed a massive outsider ahead of his April 16, MEN Arena hosted bid to dethrone reigning champ, Amir King Khan, but the Dungiven underdog is confident he has the skill and bite necessary to overcome the man regarded by many as the best 140 pound fighter on the planet to claim the world title as well as a boxing pot of gold in a fight he has labelled a rainbow bout.
The undefeated Derry professional, who becomes the third Irish European champ to upgrade to world level this Spring, believes he is at his boxing peak and stressed he has seen enough chinks in the Freddie Roach trained Bolton natives armour to ensure he can ruin Khans homecoming.
However, McCloskey (22-0) does admit Khan (24-1) represents a significant step up in class and that he will have to produce a career best performance to win on what could be a special day for Irish boxing.
I have never gone into a fight feeling I shouldnt be here and that is the way I feel about fighting Amir Khan. I dont know how to lose as professional. Obviously this is a massive step up in class but I have fought opponents of world class in my last 10 fights, McCloskey said at a packed press conference as big time boxing came to the Ulster Museum yesterday.
Amir is a superstar in world boxing and his last fight propelled him to the next level. I will have to be at my best if not better to win on the night. I think it is the perfect time for me to fight him especially after his tough clash with Marcus Maidana. I saw things in that fight that would give me confidence. He was running for the last four rounds and he was committing amateur and stupid mistakes. He was hurt in that fight and I think it could have been stopped, but I am glad it wasnt because we are here now and I have my shot.
Golden Boys latest sensation, Khans new found status as a global boxing luminary means there is more than just a prestigious title at stake in the arena were Steve Collins twice beat Nigel Benn.
The Wild Card fighter has title unification and even pound for pound aspirations and victory for McCloskey in a fight being broadcast on Sky and HBO would enable him make those dreams his own.
For me this is a rainbow fight. At the end of every rainbow there is a pot of gold. A win over Khan would bring me onto the next level. But I never look beyond any opponent be it a journeyman or a fighter of world quality like Khan. I know I have a job to do come April 16 and I am focused on doing that, he added before reflecting on the massive interest.
The turn out here today was amazing. I was expecting it because the reaction over the last few weeks has been crazy. My twitter account has gone from 30 followers to thousands. I know the Irish fans will be out in force in Manchester and it will be a great night.
Meanwhile Irish American lightweight Danny McDermott returns to action after almost a year out of action when he faces Osnel Charls at Essex County College, Newark, NJ on February 19.
The six-round bout will be the main supporting fight to “Brick City Brawl”, which is headlined by Polish heavyweight Mariusz Wach (23-0, 11KO) facing Jonathan Haggler (23-3, 18 KO) for the vacant WBC Baltic heavyweight championship.